When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When out-of-town trips take place, might as well turn it into a mini brewcation.
The Missus and I had to travel to Charlotte, NC recently, so naturally I wanted to see what new, local beer I could find that we don’t get in the Triangle. Easy enough, as NoDa Brewing, one of my favorite breweries from the fall’s World Beer Festival in Durham, sits in the heart of the city.
Lucky for me, NoDa was selling a bottle of a new brew, Pacific Reign. It’s an imperial IPA brewed with honey – HopSlam, anyone?
Let’s hit the high seas.
The goal of this beer is to hit you in the face (and senses) with hops. NoDa used Nelson Sauvin, Pacific Jade, Centennial, Columbus, Warrior, and Amarillo hops in this brew. It’s some of the best American hop varieties paired with under appreciated New Zealand breeds.
Thanks to that, Pacific Reign throws punch after punch of amazing citrus aromas at your nose, culminating with intense mango notes paired with orange and even banana. All the while there was something curious lingering around the end of each smell I could best place as lime. Bitterness is easy to find as each whiff fades away.
The taste of the beer offers just as much intensity, although that’s where the honey really comes through, starting and finishing the flavors of every sip. Unlike HopSlam, whose incredible hop intensity seems to lend to the beer’s sweetness, Pacific Reign uses the breadth of hops to complement the honey, rather than lean into it. In this case, the hops and honey are each distinctively separate. It’s easy to enjoy the tropical fruit of the hops and then find the sweetness of honey.
The beer’s 9.8 percent ABV never really shows up, thanks to enough hop favors hiding any boozy heat.
Worth noting – I went through the entire NoDa catalog of beers available during my stop at the brewery and of anything, their “Santa Baby” Christmas ale was among the best I’ve ever had. Along with an uncharacteristic winter “warmer” ABV of 4.5 percent – a welcome change from nearly every other winter beer that sits somewhere around 8 percent – NoDa also brews Santa Baby with orange peel. This gives a nice fireside aspect to a well-balanced, flavorful beer.