Final Word: Power and beauty. Aggression and elegance. Capable but restrained. You’ll forgive me for sounding like I’ve switched to writing car commercials, because the characteristics of the jungle cat that Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. chose to feature on Bay of Bengal’s label are too appropriate not to use for comparison. First, the power. Big, bold, American hop aroma and flavor is all over this beer, with a very appetizing aroma of floral, citrusy grapefruit, and taste to match. Up front this brew packs a very aggressive, leafy, bitter punch with plenty of sweet, juicy citrus and sticky nectar to keep it from being unpleasant. As the tiger strikes with great speed and strength, so also does Bay of Bengal waste no time in pushing every ounce of hop flavor and texture to the front of your tongue. While this is all well and good for the DIPA-lovin’ hop enthusiast, this tiger would completely maul many other drinkers were it not for its grace and restraint. I was very pleased with how smooth this beer is, as I never tasted any hint of the 8.9% ABV, and the clean finish sees the bitterness being cut drastically in favor of sticky nectar texture and flavor, and just enough light, biscuity malt to keep the beer from being too bitter or too sweet. While the finish does create a clean, smooth counterpoint to the assertive, dry bitterness up front, this is still undeniably and unapologetically a hop-balanced beer and I would have loved it even more if the malt flavor was given a bit more presence in the finish. I appreciated how clean and smooth the finish was, but it’s a fine line between clean and empty, and while Bay of Bengal is certainly not toeing that line, some drinkers will want the finish to be richer. What’s there is an emphasis on the untamed, bold, powerful flavor of hops in a graceful package that is never brutish or reckless. Hop lovers will adore this, as there is so much more to the hop character than just bitterness, but newer adventurers should be cautious in the jungle.
Alcohol By Volume: 8.9%
Appearance: Crystal clear burnt orange with bright orange highlights, a heavy head that sticks around as a thick layer, and delicate, webby lacing down the glass.
Aroma: Big, juicy citrus and leafy freshness from the American hops. A bit of dank funk in there as well, but very sweet and fruity overall.
Taste & Mouthfeel: Tons of dry, leafy bitterness up front with super juicy citrus and grapefruit in the very sweet finish. A slightly sticky and syrupy texture combines with the sweet citrus to create an impression of nectar, and the smooth, clean finish cuts the bitterness drastically while still offering big, fruity hop flavor and just enough biscuity malt to keep it all reigned in.
No. 13 Baby by Pixies
In the opening minutes, it can seem a bit abrasive and harsh, but by the end it’s just as sweet, pretty, and summer-tinged as any other sunny weather favorite.