Breweries are everywhere now. I stopped off near Montgomery, Ala., during a trip to Gulf Shores earlier this summer, plopped down at a bar in a local restaurant, and quickly noticed a beer from Madison, Ala. I didn’t even know there was a town in Alabama called Madison.
I ordered one, this Hop Bursted IPA from Blue Pants Brewery, so the bartender presented me with a slick-looking, red and blue can, with a pint glass. She did a quick but solid pour. Hey, I usually prefer draft, but I’m not one to complain. It was vacation, and I had beer.
I noted the deep, amber color, and then took in the aroma, which conjured the word “dank” in my mind. This one was earthy on the nose, and that dankness carried over in the flavor. In fact, the earthiness and low-boiling bitterness quickly enveloped my palate.
This one is liberally hopped, bringing plenty of bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malts, and some tropical notes do peek through as well. But for my palate, the focal point was on the piney, dry finish. It prompted me to scribble in my notes, “This one is for the hardcore IPA drinker.”
When I made my way to the brewery’s website to get more info, I was not surprised to read the description of this beer, which revealed it is “a mix of over 17 different hop varieties and a huge burst of aroma from distilled oils. All the hops are added at the end of the boil or in the dry hop phase resulting in little to no destruction of the hoppy goodness.”
That explains it. With Falconer’s Flight being a key hop and Cascade oils topping this one off, it’s no wonder it’s such a big mouthful of hop bitterness. Get your palate ready, because if you head south for a summer getaway, this one is going to meet you halfway.
I’m only sorry I didn’t make it to the brewery’s taproom, which features a wide variety of seasonal beers and one-offs. Blue Pants began with a bunch of home brewers getting together, like so many craft breweries these days, and it’s clear these folks aren’t afraid to experiment. Their take on a wee heavy, aged in bourbon barrels, sounds like a treat worth the drive all on its own.
Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based free-lance writer who writes about everything from food to music to beer to bourbon to professional football. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). He is author of "Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft" (2014, History Press). He published his first novel, "The Liberation of Crystal Hill" (Bearhead Publishing), in 2011; he also published "Crohn's Disease: A Memoir from the Toilet" in January 2015 and his currently working on two more book projects. He co-hosts a weekly local radio show, and also plays in a couple of bands, the Uncommon Houseflies and the Nick Peay Band. Not surprisingly, he doesn't sleep much. But when he isn't running around town chasing stories or poised at his trusty laptop writing, you can often find him at one of the local breweries and being thankful for the life he lives. That, or he'll be sitting on his couch with his trusty sidekick Darby. Check out his beer blog, 502Brews.com, or his website, KevinGibsonWriter.com, to find out more about his books and why he does what he does. Or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.