Name: Union Jack IPA
Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Paso Robles, California
Style: American IPA
Alcohol Content (ABV): 7.5%
First Brewed: 2007
Bright golden in the glass, topped by an off-white head, followed by a generous lacing. Pine and citrus perfume on the nose; a touch of cotton candy sneaking around underneath. Solid but lean malt backbone stands up to persistent hop flavor and bitterness.
We didn’t plan on reviewing two beers today, but when I tore off a page in my daily beer calendar, we didn’t have a choice. As I was standing there trying to figure out what beer we were going to review today, I was trying to decide between Racer 5 and Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA. Sure enough, I picked Racer 5 only to find Union Jack IPA on the calendar! So I figured we would review two beers today. The Racer 5 is an American IPA and the Union Jack is… an American IPA. It will be fun to see how they stack up and how they compare. I already know I LOVE the Racer 5, so I am curious to see what the Firestone tastes like. I have had it before, but I spend more time focused on the limited release beers from Firestone Walker. We have a bottle of Sucaba (formerly known as Abacus) in the fridge, too! Oh, and a few bottles of their Anniversary Ale in the cellar. As a matter of fact, we are headed (thanks to Dakine) to a tapping of the Anniversary Ale at the Skeptical Chymist soon.
I might like hops, but reviewing two of these in one day might be too much. Good luck tasting dinner! If you like hops, today is your lucky day here on 1001 Bottles!
In the Glass: Sheryl said, “This looks like the last one.” It does… sort of. This isn’t as impressive in regards to color, but the head is sticking around for a few minutes. It also produces a much thicker/heavier lace. I like a beer that laces well. Is that the right way to say that? Anyway, the beer appears thinner in the glass, but the head is getting me excited. [Note from Sheryl: TWSS]
Nose: That is what an IPA should smell like! I like beers that have a lot of citrus in the aroma, but this guy smells like the woods. I am talking pine cones, dirt, musk, and more. There are two major types of India pale ales… I sometimes have a hard time picking a favorite. I am really digging the aroma on this one, though. Firestone Walker has made a name for big barrel aged beer, but hopefully their IPA will impress me.
Flavor: There are too many bubbles up front, and the finish is too thin. But that is more mouthfeel than anything. The flavor is weak on the front of the palate, and then the expected American IPA hop flavors take over toward the back of the tongue. As with the Racer 5, you would never know this has such a high ABV. Yesterday I was talking with someone that ages a few bottles of IPA each year. They are low ABV beers, too. He said they get better with time. With an ABV this high, maybe time would mellow down the flavors and the bubbles would subside. For me, this is too carbonated to really enjoy.
Mouthfeel: The first thing to hit your mouth is bubbles. From the second this goes in, bubbles take over. Then it mellows out on the back of the tongue, but at first you don’t expect so much carbonation. The finish is nice, as it begins to mellow, it doesn’t become thick… but it becomes drinkable. The aftertaste is my favorite part about this beer.
Aftertaste: The dryness starts as soon as you swallow, but not as dry as the Racer 5. It has a nice subtle dryness that reminds me of a handful of rye beers I have recently had. As you swallow, the aftertaste morphs into an earthy flavor that some might dislike. It’s coming from the hops, and offers no citrus notes… just that musky flavor that I was smelling earlier.
This is a good IPA, but not one I would order again unless it was the only thing on tap besides Bud Light. There are a lot better beers out there in this stye. I will just stick to the big BA beers from Firestone Walker. Oh, BA means barrel aged. Sorry!
Beer Name – The bottle says: “NA”
Rating: 3/5 (I wish I could give a 3.5 on this… it’s not good enough for a 4, but it’s better than a 3! However, I told myself I would rate all beers on a scale of 1-5.)
Ok, so I have taken too long between the time the beer was poured and now. It’s been sitting there for a few minutes. Oh well. Ricky won’t complain, I was making plans for his 30th birthday. We are spending it in Vegas! I’m sure we will have plenty of beer there. Anyway…
Another IPA. Yay. This one honestly looks almost exactly like the other IPA we did today. Do I really have to describe it again? I’m sure Ricky would say yes. So – just like the other one, this IPA is golden yellow in color – maybe just a bit less orange than the last one. It’s thin, with little head, just like the other one. Although the nose does smell quite a bit more like hops than the last one. Even though it’s been sitting there for a few minutes, I can still smell the hops pretty strongly. I’m going to be that it probably tastes hoppier as well. Let’s find out.
Now this one – well, this one is pretty much what I expected out of the last one. It’s a typical IPA. The flavor? It’s all hops. That is literally all I can taste. There’s more hoppy after taste than with the Racer 5, and also more heat going down. The Racer 5 was good because it had more taste to it – very citrusy and kind of spicy as well. I like Firestone Walker, but this beer doesn’t impress me. It’s a typical IPA and honestly, the reason why I’m not a huge fan of IPAs. They just all taste the same to me. I can’t even really describe the flavor much more than I have. Hops are all that is there. This probably isn’t a beer I would buy again unless I was out somewhere craving an IPA and this was all that was available. Sorry, Firestone Walker, but I will stick to your darker beers!