My brother lives in San Francisco, 3,000 miles away from me. I don’t get to see him as often as I like, but he manages to come home for the holidays and a couple times in the summer. Each time he arrives back east, my 91 year old grandmother bakes him his favorite dessert ever – strawberry rhubarb pie. Yes, even in December… (she freezes rhubarb from the summer garden). That’s dedication. Omnipollo is stepping on Gram’s toes a little bit though. They harvested the flavors of her pie and put them into an IPA… made with strawberries, rhubarb, vanilla, and lactose. They call it a smoothie IPA. Seems appropriate, but will it come close to matching Gram’s flagship pie? Time for the numbers…
Smell: This might be the best smelling beer I think I’ve ever reviewed. You get tropical hops in the background, but featured in the aroma are the strawberries. You can smell the tang from the rhubarb and it also smells a little creamy because of the lactose. Calling this a smoothie IPA is more than appropriate based off smell alone.
Taste: This is really similar to Omnipollo’s Zodiak. Really light with a nice hop flavor, yet very little bitterness. The body and initial flavor reminds me of a hopped up session IPA like Stone’s Go To or Founders’ All Day – really vibrant, citrusy, and refreshing. I don’t get much strawberry flavor in the brew, if anything it’s very faint and shows up near the finish, but man that rhubarb! You get it mostly on the back end and it hits with a tart burst that leaves your mouth salivating for more. It sneaks up on you after you swallow and stabs the sides of your tongue like an Eastern European assassin. If you spend a minute away from the glass after you sip, the flavors that are left in your mouth really do remind me of a Strawberry Smoothie fresh from the Orange Julius stand you used to visit during your mall outings in high school.
The mouthfeel on 411 is light, even with the oats, and the carbonation gives you some very fine bubbles to complement the beer’s body. It’s supremely drinkable and the 6% ABV pairs well with this beer. The only gripe I have about this brew is that at certain times it tasted a little freezer burnt on finish. I only got that taste a few times as I drank, but it does knock it down slightly.
Overall: I’m upset that I’m drinking this in early March. This brew would be perfect for summer days; drinking it while it’s snowing just doesn’t seem right. However, the flavors are on point and yet again, Omnipollo is pushing the envelope with the flavor combinations in this IPA. It works, and I’m giving this an A-/A. Kid tested, grandmother approved.