Note from the Editor: Kevin Patterson, or @beerchitect as you might know him on Twitter, writes really in depth beer reviews on BeerAdvocate.com (as BEERchitect). Maybe the fact that he’s a nationally ranked BJCP beer judge, a Cicerone Certified Beer Server, or that he’s the resident Beer Geek at The Beer Trappe in Lexington, Kentucky. Either way, he knows his stuff. He has agreed to let us republish some of his reviews, and he’ll be writing new reviews on a regular basis as well. Let’s make Kevin feel at home here at LouisvilleBeer.com. His first review here is West Sixth’s IPA, they’re a proud sponsor of Louisville Craft Beer Week, so I figured they should go first. Take ‘er away, Kevin…
Since their opening their doors in April of this year, it was obvious that the brewing personnel at West Sixth was intent on celebrating a flagship IPA full glory. From the sleek can design, which reminds me slightly of Magic Hat #9’s logo, to the seductive citra hops that stand front and center, this avant garde American IPA confidently caresses the taste buds of the connoisseurs and allures the uninitiated to the hoppy side with ease.
It all starts with an artistic globe-like snifter that breams with glowing colors of honey, amber, and burnish orange. Its unfiltered haze gives a glimpse into the unadulterated purity of the ale and casts a warm glow when back lit. A creamy off-white head caps the beer with intentions to withstand the long haul. With each sip taken, residual broken rings of classy Belgian lace adorns the glass with consistency down to the last reluctant sip.
As the nose approaches the brim of the glass, those tiny bubbles unleash the aromas of ripe citrus and tropical fruits that are locked inside. Bright and zesty fruit aromas blend with complementary botanical notes of perfume, muddled grasses and tea-like herbs to round out the hop-dominant nose. Supported by candied malt notes, a softer sweeter scent allows a honey soaked marmalade and grapefruit character to emerge. With restrained spiciness, the background notes of acetone alcohol weaves into the hop character seamlessly.
As the candyish fruit flavor plays on the tongue with the juicy characteristics of white grapefruit juice, blood orange, light apricot and mango; the beer’s early impressions are abundant with the citra finishing hops. The ale’s middle palate allows the hop flavor to shift from bright and juicy fruit to freshly picked earthen grasses and chives. Its malty underpinnings supports the hop flavor while providing a shy balance of caramel sweetness and grain starches in complement before transcending into a long finish of sharply clean bitterness with citrus pith and pine resin.
Medium bodied to start, the beer’s supple carbonation, residual caramel sweetness and starchy malt textures provide a creamy mouth feel that envelops the entire mouth and paves the way for fruity hop notes. As the carbonation dissipates and the malty sweetness fades, the dry hop resins and fortified alcohol strength marches across the palate with an extended broadness which prolongs the finish. But alas, the beer lingers with a resinous-dry hop texture that’s exacerbated by alcohol warmth and stubborn malt sweetness.
While it’s not as dry or as bitter as many “hop-heads” may prefer, it’s certainly not short on pure “hoppiness”. It’s unmistakable citra hop use provides all the hop character to appease the most staunch lupulin lover. The seductive sweetness and malty-dry character keeps me returning to the glass much sooner and often than is probably recommended. This is both the reward and risk that the beer provides. If this flagship ale represents the level of quality, imagination, and skill that is to be expected of the West Sixth Brewing Company, then Lexington just got tastier and slightly more… intoxicating.
The Look: 15
The Aroma: 18
The Taste: 16
The Feel: 14
The Drinkability 18
The Total: 81 (Very Good!)