Review Date 10/2/2000 Last Updated 5/13/2006
As I'm always fond of saying, beers, like people, can
change over time. Their recipes and ingredients. The brewers who make them.
Even the company that owns the brand. When I first tried Magic Hat's Blind
Faith India Pale Ale, I was somewhat under-whelmed. It was a tasty Ringwood
ale, but it tasted a lot like many other of Magic Hat's tasty ales. Happily,
that is no longer the case. This beer has improved dramatically, so much so
that I feel it now deserves the highest possible praise.
Blind Faith is patterned after English IPAs, which tend to have a more restrained hop character than what has come to be known as American IPA, which can sometimes be super-hoppy. It's brewed with two-row pale malt, crystal, wheat, and chocolate malts. You'd be surprised how little dark malt (like chocolate here) need be added to impart flavor and color to a brew. Willamette, Progress, and Cascade hops are used. Dry-hopping is done with Cascades too.
Generally when I write a beer review I'm sitting at home, tapping away at the keys with a glass next to me. Not tonight. No, tonight I'm sitting in the Mews Tavern in Wakefield, Rhode Island and enjoying a draft pint of this exceptional brew. The laptop itself attracts the attention of some of the patrons, but most seem to quickly shrug it off as a working meal. Then I lift the glass to the light and examine the beer's color. Now people are starting to shoot strange glances my way. I sniff the beer to get the nose. I believe I've created a full blown spectacle. A gentleman who identifies himself as Steve approaches me and asks me if I am the author of the Rhode Island column for the Yankee Brew News. None other, I reply. He shakes my hand and tells me he has read all my columns (were I musician I imagine he would have informed me that he has all my albums). Oh well. We chat for a bit about beer (of course), but now it's time to get back to work.
Magic Hat Blind faith IPA is yellow-orange in color with a good head formation and a big hoppy nose. The palate is rich and toasty, chewy (from the crystal malt), biscuity (the pale malt), and a tad chocolatey (guess). There's a mushroomy, slightly buttery yeast character from the Ringwood, and a wonderfully piny bitter hop finish. I really love the way the hops and malts used work together and interact with the unique Ringwood characteristics here. Not your average IPA, but a truly exceptional one.
Enjoy this with spicy foods. My pint was consumed with an order of hot, spicy, and tangy nuclear wings. An excellent combination.
Update May 13, 2006: Blind Faith will age well, too. I know this because I am sipping a bottle that has been sitting in my beer fridge for about a year now. The hops have mellowed a great deal and the diacetyl is a bit more pronounced. But there is still a respectable bitterness present, and though I prefer the beer fresh, I am reminded that the original IPAs sent to India had a bit of age on them when they were drunk. At the very least, this means that the beer should get to you in good condition even if it sits in the beer store for a few months.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.