Tonight, we will be partaking of a beverage which was purchased over the Labor Day weekend in St. Louis. While we were visiting the Friar Tuck Wall of Beer, I spotted a brand that I had heard so much about on the /r/beer subreddit. The beer was made by Deschutes and I chose their Inversion IPA second to Schlafly’s American IPA.
Saturday night’s beer would be reviewed in the Manly Garage and it was only about a half-hour before the Sotz got temp up from 58° to 70°. Nice and quiet with the crackling of the fire put me in the right mood to drink some beer.
This review of Inversion comes one week after having the sublime Schlafley IPA which I still could not get over how great it tasted. Their description of Inversion goes:
Paradise is stumbling upon our whole flower hop room and inhaling. Inversion IPA is as close as you can get without knowing somebody.
Enter, if you will, all the glorious aromatic complexity of the hop. This big, bold IPA’s intense multi-hop kick gets a subtle dose of restraint from select Crystal and Carastan malts. For discriminating hop heads.
The description was obviously made my marketing people because the very next paragraph listed the ingredients:
Malt: Pale, Crystal, Munich, Caramel
Hops: Millennium, Horizon, Centennial, Northern Brewer, Cascade, Citra
No mention of Carastan. What gives? There may be something afoot.
The beer poured darker than expected. I’d say a light brown. The head rose up to over an inch and the carbonation was moderate. Holding the glass up to the light revealed that the beer had more of an amber color, kind of dark orange, than brown. The aroma held wisps of citrusy fruit.
The first sip held a medium body and quite a bit more malt flavors than I was expecting. The sips were nice and smooth but the swallow didn’t have that oomph-slap from the hops as I had hoped. Alas.
More sips went down. I started to think that they missed the mark on the hops with this beer. At least that was my opinion. When you buy a beer based on the style, you have your own past experiences to go on. If you have any doubts, there’s the Internet and the BJCP style book to go on.
The style book summed up an American IPA up in one sentence:
Overall Impression: A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale.
Unfortunately, Inversion IPA, in my mind did not conform this overall description. The numbers may have measured up in the lab, but the palate is exclaiming, “WTF?”
I found the malt flavors to dominate and the hop notes almost nonexistent. Nonetheless, this was a perfectly enjoyable beer. Nicely sweet with a good mouthfeel. So if this beer was misclassified, what style did it conform to?
One of the first beers that came to mind was Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. The malt characteristics were similar, but Two Hearted dominated on hops. This was more like an American Brown Ale with a slight malt bitterness at the back. Inversion would exceed the high end of the ABV scale for the style by .6%. This beer more resembled Bell’s Best Brown or Moose Drool or Ellie’s Brown.
As the sips went on, every so often I’d get a little tickle in the back of the throat and a very small thread of fruit would surface. Or was that a bit of sour? And….. it’s gone. I was till trying to push this beer into the IPA category but I was exhausting my imagination.
I’m sorry. This beer is way more of an American brown ale than it is an IPA. Perhaps they tipped their hand on their website when listing the ingredients. But why did it taste remotely of sour? I looked it up and found this:
A bug that is commonly known to get into beers without the brewer’s consent is the Acetobacte. Aceto meaning acetic and Bacter meaning bacteria, basically tells you that this bacteria likes to produce acetic acid. It’s a vinegar like acid so it can taste kind of cidery. These two bacteria are more than likely the causes of sour taste in beer, when a brewer isn’t exactly looking for a sour beer.
As the glass drained, a nice lacing set up along the inside. It was more of doily than a lace as it was quite close-knit. I’ve learned that the hops link proteins with the other ingredients to make the lacing. Perhaps the hops were spent on the lace and not on the taste in this beer. Then there was that sour again.
In my semi-pro-amateur opinion, I think the caramel and Munich malts are what dominate this beer. And being a bush-league hop taster, I’d venture going so far as to say that one or more of the hops chosen, cancelled out or nullified one or a couple of the others. But every so often, the tongue would detect a bit of sourness. (It was at this point that I thought this run of Inversion was compromised in some way. I may have some bad beer here. Still gonna drink it all.)
As a brown ale, this beer is nicely drinkable. The 6.8% alcohol places it nicely in anyone’s reasonable drinking session. 4 or 5 and done. With one left over to give away. It has a great malty flavor with a nice sweetness and sip after sip will go down like a row of Dominoes.
If Deschutes distributes in your area, pick up some Inversion and also pick up some of their Mirror Pond pale ale. Drink them side by side. Never having tasted the latter, I’d venture to say that the Mirror Pond will give you more hop flavor over its Inversion sibling. OR… try putting some hop infused vodka in your glass or use one those Randall infusers.
Deschutes Inversion IPA is a great beer any time of year. Nicely sweet, malty and drinkable. But like those Fb pictures, there’s more (or less) than meets the eye.
Taste: Nice and malty. The hops have the day off.
Smoothness: The malts carry it right down. The sourness provides the obstacle course.
Drinkability: Why yes. One more would be fine.
Bang for the buck: Good price, wrong classification.
Paid price: $8.99
Get it again? Maybe. Just to solve the sourness mystery and/or compare to Mirror Pond.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) I can smell the grapefruit but it’s not a lot. (sip) It’s not too bitter but it’s dry. (sip) Other than that, I don’t get a whole lot. (How the hell do you smell grapefruit?)
Video review by Grizzly Beer
Deschutes – pass it along