There are plenty of young breweries in B.C., and Highway 97 Brewing is one of them. Taking on a style like the Double IPA is quite the task. This is a very hop-forward beer that can quickly come out of balance, so let’s see how this young brewery fared in tackling the style.
B.C. Beer Reviews: Highway 97 Brewing – Dirt Road DIPA
The Double IPA is not a style for the faint of heart nor the inexperienced brewer. You need to find a way to balance the level of bitterness and hop sharpness with a malt/grain bill sweetness or the presence of added sugars. It is an easy style to make and be unbalanced, but when done well can win over the masses.
Let’s take a ride down the dirt road and see how Highway 97 Brewing did with this one.
Pours a fairly deep amber colour bordering on a brown hue. The clarity is quite nice in both the pour and when it is in the glass. The beer remains a pleasant deep amber colour when the glass is full, a characteristic that is common with the style. The clarity, however, is fantastic for it being a Double IPA. It also pours a very slightly off-white head as well.
This beer starts off with the typical pine and spicy herbal notes that you would come to expect of an old school bitter beer. This is very much a hop-forward brew, but it does not present much in the way of complexity. These two notes are really all you get from the hops. This is not exactly a bad thing, but it is certainly not a new school Double IPA.
There is a very light and indistinguishable sweetness in this beer as well. It is not quite as powerful as it would be if it was derived completely from the malt/grain bill. None the less, it is a fairly sweet beer, which is surprising given the first notes being very hop-forward.
This is the opposite of the nose/aroma. With the style in mind and the first notes you smell you would expect a fairly bitter beer, but that is certainly not the case here.
The beer starts off with a light citrus note from the hops and is immediately followed up by a sweetness indicative of the malt/grain bill. It would normally keep it from being far too bitter, but it is to the point of subduing the bitterness presented by the hops.
Despite being a Double IPA, this beer is fairly muted in its hop presence in terms of bitterness. You get enough to be noticeable, but certainly not enough to match up with the style.
Just like the name of the beer, there is a dirt road as the background of the label. On it is Highway 97 Brewing and other details about the beer, the brewery and other information about the fledgeling brewery.
The head this beer pours is moderate and the retention of that head is equally as moderate. It is initially noticeable but dissipates far quicker than you would want from this style.
There is a fair amount of lacing on the glass from this beer, albeit very light patches. Little spots of foam patch the glass here and there.
The carbonation level is very subpar as well. If the carbonation level were to be slightly higher it might accentuate the aromatics and bitterness on your palate to elevate this beer to a level it is currently lacking.
Overall, this is not at all a bad beer, it just does not quite hit the mark for the style. The bitterness is fairly low for the style, the aroma has potential albeit fairly moderate and the taste is headed in the right direction. This beer has potential, but it has not quite hit the mark just yet.
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Main photo by Nic Hendrickson, Lastword Inc., all rights reserved