The perfect hophead training wheels
A Review of Lagunitas IPA by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Posted on 8/5/2011 by Chops
As we have mentioned many times before here at BrewChief, there is a lot to be said for breweries who can craft high quality basic IPAs. The keyword here is ''basic.'' Not imperial, or fruit infused, or seventeen hopped, or spiced with an incredibly rare tropical flower, etc. When determining the overall quality of any given brewery, there are a few key observations that any beer lover should pay attention to. One of those is the IPA. The style is conceptually simple, but really hard to get right. If you find a fatal flaw in a brewery's IPA, then chances are that the rest of the product line suffers from the same fatal flaw. It's by no means a stone cold rule, but definitely common enough to be a generality.

That being said, the Lagunitas IPA is great example of a brewery getting the basics right before engaging in interpretation. In the glass, this beer has a lovely copper coloration and is dark enough to lean more towards an imperial IPA color. The aroma takes on a more sweetened hop profile with an herbal flare. It's very welcoming and does not come across as overly aggressive.

The first sip confirms the most important aspect of an IPA: balance. This beer does not hit you with a hop overload and actually puts the core flavor up front, which is a very nice change up. There is a hefty floral undertone to the hops, which you can taste throughout the flavor train. There are also several sweet notes bubbling from underneath that resemble caramel and black cherries. I love this interpretation and I think it gives the beer a very relaxed character. The hop profile is always present, but doesn't distract from the flavor. The finish is warm and pleasant, leaving a mildly bitter aftertaste.

Overall, the Lagunitas IPA is a delicious brew and a great representation of the style. This is the perfect brew for a hophead in training. It's easy drinking for an IPA, but retains enough bite to entertain the more seasoned hopheads. I can completely understand why this beer is the Lagunitas flagship. It's one of the few hoppy brews that can effortlessly appeal to multiple genres. It may not be world class for the style, but its reach is grand and warranted. I can happily recommend this brew to most levels of beer drinkers, so pick up a sixer and enjoy some hoppy goodness!

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Lagunitas IPA by Lagunitas Brewing Co.
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