So here's a new feature, I thought I might try out: beer reviews (hey, the title of the blog lists beer, you should have been expecting this...). Up first? Firestone Union Jack IPA.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company (motto: Passion for the Pale) makes pale ales. They only make pale ales. That's all. You know what? There's something to be said for the idea of doing one thing, and doing it damn well. Based out of Paso Robles, California, they are best known for their British-style, oak-barrel-fermented flagship, DBA Double Barrel Ale, which has wide distribution (and is worthy of it). They also make Pale 31 California-Style Pale Ale, and at least one specialty brew that I've seen (Walker's Reserve).
What's really got me excited, though, is their newest offering, Union Jack IPA. Those who know me know that I'm a hop fiend. Can't get enough of the good stuff. Well, Union Jack certainly delivers the hops: a whopping 70 IBU's. Couple this with 7.5% ABV, and this one is not for the faint of heart. Definitely one for the hop-heads, although I will say that while Firestone's website claims both pineapple and citrus notes, I didn't pick up much in the way of subtle flavors from this one (probably due to the overwhelming bite from the hops/alcohol).
Grade: A very solid B+. This is one of the better IPAs I've tried in the last year. It falls a little short of the top tier (Lagunitas, Deschutes Inversion, Stone Ruination, etc.), mainly due to how much the hops/alcohol wash out any flavor depth, but a quality offering, and something that should move Firestone Walker up the west coast brewery food chain a couple notches. One to try for the IPA lovers out there.