I had run across a blurb somewhere about a beer from Southern Tier called Choklat Oranj. I remembered that their Choklat stout had the best tasting chocolate flavors of all the ones tried. Now they’ve added an orange flavor to it. That sounded pretty tasty.
The search for Choklat Oranj took me to three well stocked beer stores and finally the last one, Binny’s, said they didn’t get any in. I asked the Binny’s beer guy to recommend a “new and exciting” beer for me. He presented me with a four-pack of cans from Half Acre Beer Co. in Chicago.
“Do you like IPA’s?” he asked. I was tempted to reply with the bear in the woods cliche but decided to be nice and just say “Yes.”
“This beer is fantastic!” he said. I was filled with hope.
Navaja Double India Pale Ale sounded interesting based on what told me. I had no clue what was in the can. The label had just the name, the quantity and the government warning. It was the afternoon of New Year’s eve and the store was jammed with people with their carts full of various boozes, hootches, and beers. Oh, and wines. I looked around and wondered to myself, “How many future DUIs are here right now?” It wouldn’t be me.
No Choklat Oranj. Instead I got a DIPA in a basically unmarked can. Navaja. The name on the can was a bit hard to decipher. The ‘v’ looked like a backwards ’n’ and I had to rotate the can to read the name. Not the greatest color scheme. Underneath the name was some multi-armed skeleton creature wielding knives. I was clueless.
Back home I began Googling my booty. Not that booty, I mean booty as in loot, treasure, etc. The other booty Googling is for later.
Navaja (I’m sure it’s pronounced ‘nah-vah-ha’) is a traditional Spanish folding-blade fighting and utility knife. That explains the creature on the label. It probably alludes to the sharp, cutting hops used in the brewing process. That may be the case for some more sensitive palates. *
We have the label figured out, now what about the ABV? Navaja is brewed a few times each year. The Half Acre website has it at 9.5%. The two rating sites have it at 10%.
We’ve wrung all the information we can out of this booty. It’s time to drink. Let’s dig in.
The typical golden yellow liquid poured into the glass wafting aromas of soft hoppiness in the immediate vicinity. A three-quarter inch white head sat atop the crystal clear beer. When I got my nose into the glass the hop aromas were distinctive.
The first sip was quite different from what I was expecting. While the beer had a nice “very medium” mouthfeel, the hop flavors at the end were unique. I taste I haven’t tasted before.The Golden Promise malt provided the carrier or backbone if you will, but the story this beer tells is all about the hops.
The bitterness is no where near tonsil searing. As a matter of fact, the bitterness manifests in the center to front of the palate. Each sip was an adventure in diversity. Take a sip and experience the flavors. Wait. What the hell did that taste like again? Take a sip. Repeat. A bit of citrus and some pine and a small dose of dank.
According to the description at RateBeer, the beer was brewed with 3 hops, Citra, Mosaic and Columbus. Both Citra and Mosaic have fruity and almost tropical flavors. I’m sure that at about 17% alpha acids that the Columbus was the massive bittering hop used at the beginning of the process.
The beer is an easy drinker and a sandbagger rolled into one. For me it was and adventure in taste. Navaja was a slight deviation from the few tropical fruity hopped beers I’ve recently had. Alchemist Heady Topper and Crusher along with Surly Abrasive are all in that group of big beers in the tropical fruit genre.
A four-pack of 16 oz. cans will set you back a couple of bucks more than usual but the beer is a bit more than usual itself. It would be the perfect “personal sipper” during a Netflix binge session, or a long movie until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer. Yeah, the fridge is there, the bathroom is there and the bedroom is just over there. Just my opinion. For all I know you may enjoy some Navaja while shingling the garage roof. You’ll soon know at what point the alcohol kicked in by looking at the evenness of the shingle rows and maybe the impact crater in the lawn.
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
Taste: Unique, odd, tasty.
Smoothness: The bitterness is all up front. Throat is spared.
Bang for the buck: A bit pricey but it’s a different taste experience.
Amount paid: $13.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans.
Get it again? Maybe, but I doubt it. I’d sure drink it again.
* Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: More clear than cloud. (sniff) Real citrusy smelling. (sip) Uhk, ooh. Like white grapefruit with no sugar on it. I don’t like that, it’s too bitter. (Only one sip?? Come on… It’s not that bitter. Where’d you go?)