Quick Take: This is like a battle between East and West Coast IPAs with the bitter, hoppy East winding up victorious. I normally like my IPAs to have a better fruit/malt presence with balanced bitterness, but I can’t fault the bitter-is-better crowd if this is one of their favs. For me, a solid IPA that I will have again any time, but at $6 a bottle, I won’t be going out of my way to add this to my regular drinking beers.
Quick Take: What this lacks in complexity, and it is definitely lacking, it makes up for in lightness and drinkability. This is a well-blended beer that integrates the bourbon to enhance the base beer without overrunning it. Just temper your expectations, especially if your reference point for dark and delicious Firestone beers is the rich, boozy and complex Parabola.
If you’ve been to a big beer release of a popular bourbon barrel-aged beer, let’s say Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout, you’ve probably overheard some craft beer types proclaiming “it was better last year” or something of the like. Pro Tip: If you encounter a herd of craft beer hipsters like me in the wild, just mutter “Last years was better” and take a long, self-satisfied sip off whatever unpronounceable Belgian you’re pretending to like and bask in the bearded nods of approval.
First off, we have to acknowledge that whatever beer it is, no matter how good this years beer is, a remembered beer always tastes best. The bias of memory and a year’s worth of beer tasting and palate expanding can change just as much as the beer. While the concept that last year’s version of a beer is better might seem like beer snobbery of the highest regard, and sometimes it is, there is some legitimacy to this.
Quick Take: The enjoyment of this beer will really depend on your tongue’s relationship with hops and malt. I can appreciate this for being a bit different, but the sweet malt ends up being crushed by the dry, floral bitter finish, making for a beer at odds with itself. For my money, I think this is an affordable IPA that doesn’t play it safe but ends up providing a confused taste.
Quick Take: Anchorage has created a chardonnay-barreled, Belgian IPA with brett that is both unique AND well-crafted. The vinous qualities and brett really take this beyond the humble roots of the style. If drank too cold or fast, I could see missing the subtle elements and not thinking much of it. Take some time with this beer and you’ll find a surprisingly refined, complex beer that is a highlight of the Belgian IPA style.