The Hophead Chronicles
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This week we continue our hoppy tour of the US, visiting the states south of Virginia and east of the Mississippi. The South isn't particularly known for India Pale Ale, but we found a number of breweries making tasty examples of the style.
We tasted 8 IPAs from the region, looking for pungent citrusy and/or piney hop flavors (and enough creamy malt to back them up.)
Of course, there are many more breweries in the South, and we'd love to hear about any more noteworthy Southern IPAs. Have you tried these beers? What others should we add to our must-taste list?
Serious Beer Ratings
5/5 Mindblowing; a new favorite 4/5 Awesome, stock up on this 3/5 Around average for the style 2/5 There are probably better options 1/5 No, thanks, I'll have water.
Cigar City Jai Alai, Florida 7.5% ABV Mango and tangerine join the more common grapefruit in the aroma of Jai Alai, giving it a distinctly tropical twist. Melon, earthy hay, and resin balance nicely with sweeter caramel and toasted bread in the flavor. There's some lingering bitterness and a bit of alcohol burn in the finish, but this is an interesting, even-handed, and quaffable IPA. 4/5
Sweetwater IPA, Georgia 6.3% ABV Grapefruit defines this beer's aroma and flavor, with pine and floral perfume melding with the citrus character. The body is exceptional—smooth and creamy, with perfect carbonation, but the flavor balance leans towards dry and prickly hop bitterness—we wanted a little more malt character. 3.5/5
Terrapin Hopsecutioner, Georgia 7.3% ABV We smelled sweet caramel and mild citrus. Hops are showcased here, but the bitterness is toned down. Pine and grapefruit in the flavor are highlighted by lychee, with bread crust and caramel providing balance and a clean finish. 3.5/5
COAST Brewing HopArt, South Carolina 7.7% ABV Oily citrus is dominant in the nose and the strongly bitter finish, backed by hints of pepper, pine, and caramel. This is an IPA for hopheads, but it could have been helped by added carbonation for more texture. 3.25/5
Good People IPA, Alabama 6.0% ABV Biscuit, cracker, and toffee flavors are underlined by oily marmalade and floral hops. A creamy, chewy mouthfeel fades to some alcohol burn in the finish. 3.25/5
Thomas Creek Class Five, South Carolina 5.5% ABV Dry flavors of grapefruit, orange, and pine struck us first, fading to brown bread and cocoa in the finish. Class Five is not very aggressive for an IPA—it's mild and quaffable, and may appeal to the IPA-phobic. 3/5
Top of the Hill Ram's Head, North Carolina 6.1% ABV Ram's Head is a malt-focused English IPA. The hops lend mostly spicy bitterness, with caramel stealing the show. Cocoa makes a cameo in the finish. 3/5
Mother Earth Brewing Sisters of the Moon, North Carolina 6.9% ABV Orange and berry flavors were interesting, but hot alcohol and the astringent pine bitterness needed more sweet malt flavors to smooth this beer out. 2.5/5
All beers were provided as samples for review.
About the Author: Nick Leiby is a Boston-based scientist and homebrewer. When he's not drinking yeast, he's probably studying it in lab.