The soup du jour, the recently printed sheet of paper atop the menu, and the chalk board on the sidewalk. Also known as the chef specials. They make a patron feel on-the-in and unique for ordering “off menu” items. We conger up images of these dishes in our head and establish unrealistic expectations as to what they will taste like. In doing so, they sometimes disappoint. I’m hoping the chefs Bear Republic really put some thought into this Special IPA they brewed up to avoid a tepid tasting brew. Only one way to find out – time to run them numbers…
Smell: Another tropical IPA on our hands here… and it smells unreal. What does unreal smell like? Mangoes, nectarines, clementines, grainy, and a little alcohol.
Taste: First reaction after tasting this was, “hey, this is surprisingly roasty.” I don’t know if it’s the alcohol or the grain, but the first taste was similar to a burnt caramel and malt party. After the first sip, some of those tropical/citrus notes from the smell came through on the palate: grapefruit, mango, bitter orange. Outside of the tropical taste, the beer has a resinous note to it which I pin on the alcohol and the finish is intense and powerfully bitter like biting into a citrus rind. As I continue to drink, I ask myself how in the hell did roasty first pop into my head? I think it’s because the smell is so tropical and fruity, I was expecting that initially out of the taste, but I got more of the heavy alcohol flavor that masked the nuances of the hops… and that is certainly a knock on this beer.
At 8.9% ABV, this brew unequivocally falls into the double IPA category and is pushing that boundary to the max. For me, the more alcohol in the brew doesn’t necessarily equate to a better brew, and Apex is case in point. The 8.9% adds a thicker, more robust mouthfeel to the beer which is great for some styles, but doesn’t mesh well with an IPA. Additionally, the higher ABV makes this beer drink heavier than it looks and it sits lingering in the stomach like that piece of gum you swallowed four years ago. I’m not nailing this beer to the cross, but there comes a point where too much of a good thing is enough.
Overall: Now that I’ve stepped off my soapbox, it’s time to give this brew a final grade. I enjoyed it – nice flavor, nice hops, nice aroma, but I think it shot itself in the foot with the excessive ABV. It actually drinks very similar to Hop 15 by Port, only this beer is less syrupy. All said and done, this brew earns a B+. While this isn’t a special I would send back, it also isn’t something I’d order again and again. It might be one of my favorite IPAs if that resinous alcohol taste was toned down. Pass my criticism to the chef.