Friday, May 27, 2011

Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA

This will be the finale to my review of the Sam Adams Summer Styles Sampler pack.  I will start by saying Latitude 48  is one of my favorite IPAs. It was involved in FatCat’s 2011 IPA shootout and finished 5th overall. Latitude 48 is 6.0% ABV and is brewed with five hop varieties. The hops are Hallertau, East Kent Golding, Ahtanum, Simcoe, and Zeus. All five of these hop varieties are grown along the “hop belt” close to the 48th latitude (hence the name) and are from Germany, England, and the U.S.

The Latitude 48 poured with a large three fingered head. The brew was mainly citrus on the nose with a hint of sweetness from the malt. This brew is a very clean and well-balanced IPA. There is no astringency, as in some other examples of this style, and the Latitude 48 bitterness is not overpowering. The taste initially is light citrus with a small amount of sweetness in the background. The brew finishes clean without lingering too long. As the brew warms, you will get hints of grapefruit and some earthy/grassy notes. These earth/grassy notes are very faint. The thing that struck me as interesting is how this is a whole mouth bitter. Many IPAs you try will have a one-dimensional bitterness to them which will usually hit you in the back part of your mouth. The Latitude’s bitterness will hit you in the back part of the mouth, and a little on the roof of your mouth, and then on the sides. It is a very interesting sensation and is impressive because it is not a harsh experience.

I have come across many critics of the Latitude 48. Most of them are hardcore “hophead” IPA fans. So they expect everything labeled “IPA” to strip the enamel off their teeth. Frequently the lines between Double IPAs and regular IPAs are blurred in the minds of craft beer drinkers. They compare a Stone Ruination, as an example, with the Latitude 48 and claim the Latitude 48 is not hoppy enough or is too malty. These are two different styles with separate characteristics. Unfortunately, this is common. For any of you who are interested in defining the style of the beer you are drinking, visit BJCP Style Guidelines and bask in the plethora of information available.

With my adventures in homebrewing I have found new respect for delicate flavors. In brewing, it is much more difficult to make a brew with delicate flavors in the final product. It is not hard to dump a ton of hops in the kettle and brew a harsh, overly aggressive IPA. It is a challenge to bring out the hop flavors and set it apart from the bitterness. Then to get the hop bitterness and hop flavor to balance with the sweetness of the malt, now that is art. I have respect for beers that are clean and have defined delicate flavors like in the Latitude 48. That is why I say the Latitude 48 is one of my favorite IPAs because it is balanced, super clean, and displays not only bitterness but delicate hop flavor.


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