Surprise, Surprise

Jeffrey Wiser, July 22, 2013

When you drink enough beer to be a BeerGraphs contributor, even if it’s only BarelyBeer, there aren’t a lot of beer-drinking occasions that surprise you. I suppose this is a reflection of the double-edged sword that becoming an expert, no matter the discipline, can become. Things that are uncommon to most become commonplace to the expert. I’m not an expert, but I’m probably closer than most to becoming one and I just don’t often stop and say “Wow!” very often when it comes to beer.

Well, the other night, I stopped and said “Wow!”

I was seated by the fireplace at a new restaurant, one that my girl and I had wanted to try to for a while. It specialized in New Mexican cuisine, which is something you don’t find very often. I ordered an oldie-but-goody from my formative beer-consuming years: Lagunitas IPA. Given the amount of chile spice I was about to consume, something cold and crisp to ease the flavor sounded like a helluva plan. The rellenos and tamales were epic and the IPA did a fine job of playing fireman.

What struck more than the food and drink was my pint glass. You read that right, the most exciting thing about the experience was my pint glass. A custom-made pint jar embossed with the Lagunitas dog mascot. Perhaps you’ve seen this before, but it was new to me, just like the restaurant. The lighting was dark and I probably would have missed the whole thing if it weren’t for the fireplace and candle-lit table illuminating my glass. It caught my eye and I said, “Wow!” 

If you haven’t had the Lagunitas IPA before, you’ve somehow missed one of the staples of beer. I first enjoyed it when I was in college and experimenting with microbrews that were produced outside of the Northwest. Lagunitas quickly became my favorite California brewery (but has since been superseded). Here’ what you can expect from it

Lagunitas IPA

  • Appearance: the beer is deep amber in color with a thick foam head (4.5)
  • Smell: there are hop and floral scents present, but the beer did not exude a strong scent (3.5)
  • Taste: hops, citrus and fruit are noticeable, but the taste, like the smell, isn’t overwhelming (4)
  • Mouthfeel: crisp enough on the front end, smooth through the middle and lingers like an IPA should on the back end. This beer is remarkably well-balanced (4)
  • Overall: depending on how you like your IPA’s, this beer is very enjoyable. It’s smooth enough to drink and enjoy but crisp and hoppy enough to be a true IPA. No wonder it’s a staple of the IPA market. If you’re not an IPA drinker or you’re looking to introduce IPA’s to someone who’s new to beer, this would be a good place to start (4)

While the glass caught my attention, the beer held it, as it was nice to return to a familiar taste and feel. We enjoyed beautiful food in a beautiful setting and the beer still managed to hold my interest. Plus, I’ve already put in an order for these glasses and you can, too!

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