Along with seeing friends and family – something that happens far too rarely – one of the exciting aspects of going home is the growing beer scene. It’s a slow and steady local industry, but one I’ve become more and more excited about each time I make the trip back to upstate New York.
However, that doesn’t mean everything is golden. I’ve found that the brews produced can be rather hit-or-miss and the first of a few I brought home with me from a recent trip was on the miss side. This brew has a 79 on Beer Advocate.
I recently popped open Custom Brewcrafters’ Caged Alpha Monkey, an American IPA that’s more bite than bark. Despite using four different kinds of hops (Simcoe, Chinook, Citra and Falconer’s Flight) hardly any of their characteristics come across. Had I not looked at the beer’s web page, I never would have guessed that Simcoe and Citra come anywhere close to this beer. If anything, it seemed like a mostly Cascade-based brew.
Both the beer’s smell and taste were bitter, plain and simple. There was a little citrus and floral notes on the nose, but was covered up by the alcohol and bitterness. At 65 IBUs, this beer isn’t overly bitter according to scale (~100 being at or near the top), but could simply just be balanced poorly enough where I can’t get anything other than bitterness. If there was more malt or if the hops were used in a different fashion, it might be a different story. More dry hopping, perhaps? Or just more late boil additions? To me it seems like all these hops were thrown in at the start of the brew and that was that.
To me, the characteristics shown by Simcoe and Citra are typically recognizable, but I got none of the pine or tropical fruit from those hops in this beer. Since they’re high in alpha acid, I suppose it makes sense that they could’ve been used in large quantities as bittering hops and just took over the beer.
Silver lining of all this? The label is pretty awesome. Hit the jump for my “Rate That Beer” sheet.