The truck was low on gas and finances only allowed for a beer purchase. The gas would have wait. I was limited to the local bottle shops (of which there is only one decent one.) I started at ol’ reliable Four Seasons and started scanning the shelves. The owner, Barry, was kind enough to point out the new additions. A bunch from Odell in Colorado, a few from a brewery in Chicago and a couple of others.
I started examining labels, when a “regular” beer caught my eye. The beer was called Azacca India Pale Ale and it was brewed by Founders in Grand Rapids. All I bothered to read on the back label was “Named after the Haitian god of agriculture…” That reminded me of Anicca IPA brewed by 3Floyds.
Anicca was a collaboration beer brewed with Half Acre Brewing out of Chicago. It was a single hop beer made with only Mosaic hops. The beer was named after a Sanskrit doctrine concerning the temporary nature of all things. I brewed up my IPA using only Mosaic hops and it tasted very similar, if my memory serves me. Pfft!. I named the recipe Impermanence. Anicca has not been made again since.
I discovered that Azacca, although it has a similar spelling to Anicca is something completely different. It’s the actual name of the hop strain recently released out of Washington state. I’d say the hop strain became commercially available to brewers early last year, and now we have a finished product in the glass today. Known for its tropical fruit flavors, Azacca (14-16% alpha) is excellent for late hop additions and dry hopping. Azacca is also a Voodoo deity who is a slob at parties.
As you may know, tropical fruit flavors in IPAs are right up my alley right next to the Belgians. I guess I’m just an old softie when it comes to beer tasting.
I was a bit skeptical as to what was in store for me but I have a reasonable degree of confidence that this beer will sit with me perfectly. Let’s begin.
The beer poured with a nice golden orange color. Tons of foam were waiting at the top, the product of a perpendicular pour. Carbonation was pretty robust. The aroma was of floral hops. I could hardly wait.
The first sip was delicious. The beer had a taste all its own for being an IPA. The flavor is similar to other IPAs which exhibit tropical fruity tastes. Consider Zombie Dust only from somewhere in the Caribbean. Or Hawaii.
Some slight tastes of mango, tangerine and maybe a little Ruby Red grapefruit come and go from sip to sip. The flavors don’t fly into your face, they quietly hang in the back of the mouth making you smile. The hops provide much of the flavor and very little in the form of actual bitterness. The beer is quite tasty and easy to drink.
Azacca hops are a relatively new breed. Founders first brewed this beer as a seasonal last year. Apparently the taste of the beer was such a hit with the beer community, that other breweries started creating their own version of single hopped Azacca beers. A quick Google image search turns up a handful of breweries that brew their own beers with these hops. And I’ll bet you each one tastes slightly different from each other one.
Quantities of Azacca hops are available to the homebrewer for the usual price of 2 bucks an ounce in pellet form. I’m thinking of trying it myself in the Spook Powder recipe only with Azacca hops instead of Citra. Should be a shoo-in for a win in the IPA competition at the club later this year.
Founders has a hit with this beer and once the fame and notoriety of the Azacca hop get around, we’ll see more brewers jump on the Azacca bandwagon.
This Founders beer would be an excellent thirst quencher after work, out in the garage or shop, or just chillin’ while watching the non-existent football game on the TV. If you see this beer on the shelf, jump on it. The price is reasonable and the taste is borderline phenomenal.
Style: India Pale Ale
Taste: Very nice; fruity and very drinkable.
Smoothness: The tonsils are safe with this beer.
Bang for the buck: Same as other craft beers.
Amount paid: $9.99 for a sixpack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Yes. As long as it’s available.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: I can smell it from here. (sip) There’s not much to that. (sip) I’m not getting a whole lot. (sip) Almost like weak tea. (She may need a tongue scraping or something.)
Azacca IPA: A Tropical Addition to our IPA lineup [2:07]