Tonight we’ll partake of one of the last two sixpacks purchased during our family visit to St. Louis and the Friar Tuck wall of beer. Two IPAs, Deschutes Inversion or Schlafly American waited in the garage beer fridge. The decision was easy. What would a visit to St. Louis be without some Schlafly? Their Pumpkin Ale and Irish-Style Extra Stout paved the way.
Tonight’s selection will once again be from Schlafly and their American IPA. The label depicts a hop cone with a large capital A in the center. The IPA designation is flanked by the words Special Release and below that is the style named as American India Pale Ale. Be advised that there may be a little confusion here. It’s an American rendition of an India Pale Ale. Is is not an American Indian Pale Ale. But it would be awesome if the native Americans opened breweries instead of casinos.
What did I expect? I know what an IPA should taste like. I would just like to taste Schlafly’s take on the American IPA style. I wondered if it would be a mere platform for the demonstration of hop tastes, or if it would be one of those uniquely balanced great IPAs that balance the hops and the malts together in a synergy.
After being converted to the IPA style of beer, I have learned a bit about what to look for in taste characteristics and hop types. As far as taste is concerned, I know what I like. As far as hops are concerned, the learning curve continues. As yet, I cannot taste a beer and call off the names of the hops used in the brewing of it. I’m sure that some folks can, but they’re probably a lot higher up the beer snobbery tree than I am.
For me, I look for the degree of bitterness, whatever that bitterness may be. Then the fruity tastes. Citrus, grapefruit, pineapple, orange, lemon. Or the red fruits such as mango, nectarine, tangerine, cherries, etc. Weigh in the sweetness, then the body. And finally, how the whole mish-mash of tastes play together, the balance of flavors.
I did a search on BeerAdvocate for just the word Schlafly. Over 100 results came up. The styles that they brew or have brewed are all over the map style-wise. And this brewery is right in the middle of A-B InBev country. You have to admire the gumption these guys have of flying their flag and plying their trade in the face of the enemy.
Time to dive head first into a beer that traveled almost 300 miles to sit in the garage beer fridge. Here we go.
The beer came up with a nice off-white head standing over a beautiful, crystal clear amber liquid. Carbonation was quite lively and made up of various bubble sizes. The aroma was slight, but had faint scent of piney hops. This’ll likely be a citrus beer. To what degree, we’ll have to see.
The first sip held a great medium body with plenty of citrus flavors, some grapefruit, maybe some pineapple. The swallow was a toned down sharpness with plenty of bitterness. My overall impression of these first few sips was that of complete and utter satisfaction.
Interestingly, the sips immediately present themselves with not only the nice medium body, but also with some sweetness that fades slightly after the swallow. The liquid went down the hatch leaving behind a little bit of cack at the back of the throat and a bit of stickiness on the lips. In my opinion, this was the perfect example of the style.
Towards the bottom of the first glass, the head was almost completely gone, but the beer left its tracks on the inside of the glass. The sips continued and I couldn’t get over the taste. How nice. Not too much of any one ingredient. The beer was perfectly balanced along the taste spectrum – body, sweetness, malt character and finish.
Schlafly spills the beans on their website as to what they used for ingredients. 65 IBUs seems just about right for this beer. Just out of the pale ale area and nicely into the IPA zone. Why brewers use the Plato scale instead of good ol’ specific gravity must be an inside game that they play and understand. We have to use calculators to convert from one scale to the other. Therefore 16.5 Plato equates to around 1.068 specific gravity. And my interpretation of the 65 IBUs puts that at the top of the bitterness that the human tongue can taste according to Basic Brewing.com. Now we know.
The more I dug into the background of this beer and Schlafly’s stats, the more I started to really appreciate what the brewery is churning out. First off, their Pumpkin Ale is the best I have ever tasted. So far. DFH’s Punkin Ale is fond memory. The only untried contender would be Southern Tier’s Pumking. I have an eye peeled and on the lookout for that beer. (Your palate may vary.) Schlafly’s APA, American Pale Ale is a stalwart standard after work beer. Schlafly American IPA sits at the wonderful end of the taste gauntlet. 7.2% alcohol, 65 IBUs, nicely sweet with a great malt character and a pleasant bitter finish. By the end of the sixpack, anyone who loves beer and the IPA style, will be in Nirvana. It’s not another Zombie Dust, but it’s agreat sit-in-your-lap beer. I’ll be hard pressed to decide not to buy more during my next visit to St. Louis. Schlafly makes some great damn beer.
Taste: Excellent! Perfect for the style.
Smoothness: Easy going from front to back.
Drinkability: More! Tongue craves more!
Bang for the buck: Worth every cent of $9.
Paid price: $8.99
Get it again? Abso-frikkin’-lutely.
Aubrey’s all-encompassing opinion: Smells citrusy. It’s sweet at first and bitter later. I can’t pinpoint the fruit but it’s citrus. Grapefruit! It’s bitter for my taste but I like the citrus aspect of it. (The wife went to bed early. My son and his babe, Aubrey showed up and paid the ol’ man a visit. Her opinion pretty much summed it up. For a girl.)
Video review from a guy who loves biscuity:
Brewery for sale. Sort of.