A few weeks ago, I was at Total Wine in Alpharetta, Georgia. It was the week of Thanksgiving to be precise, and I was on the prowl for the usual assortment of holiday goodies. As I’m sure you well by now, for me that means beer. One of the brews that most immediately caught my attention was yet another new libation from Newcastle, Newcastle Winter IPA.
Raising an eyebrow, and in my best Spock voice, I said, “Fascinating.” I did this for a couple of reasons, mostly because it is unfortunately rare here in the good old United States to see India Pale Ales from the UK. That’s doubly distressing to me since it was our good friends in jolly old England that originated the style. Reason two for my surprise was the fact that Scottish Newcastle used to send us a beer called McEwan’s India Pale Ale, and I wondered if this beer should be similar to that one.
Newcastle calls its winter IPA “Brilliant British Ale” on the neck label, and futher claims that it “echoes the style of 18th century India pale ales, which were subtly higher hopped than British pale ales.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve waited long enough, so let’s pop the cap on this one, shall we?
Newcastle Winter IPA pours to a seemingly dull coppery orange color. The head formation is very light and consists of tightly packed bubbles, while the nose is slightly vinous and definitely fruity. Taking a sip, I’m a bit surprised how much this reminds me of the Newcastle Werewolf Blood Rye Ale I drank a few months ago, though minus the spicy rye notes from that one. I do like the soft, dark malty notes laced with a hint of caramel up front. The vinous fruit adds a tasty layer too, and finally the hops appear, a bit herbal and grassy in aroma then surprisingly bitter as they leave a long dry finish on the palate.
By American standards, this is not a hoppy IPA, but let’s be fair: this is not intended to be an American IPA. You won’t mistake the hop presence here, but that’s OK with me, because everything is in balance and all in all this is a very pleasant sipping brew. The soft dark maltiness reminds me a bit of McEwans, which is quite welcome. About what I would expect to pay at $8.49 a six-pack, I enjoyed a bottle tonight with a tossed salad followed by a plate of bangers and mash.
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.