IPA of the Finest Kind? You’ve got it folks in every bottle of Smuttynose Finestkind IPA, a beer that I have had before, but really haven’t had before. That’s because Smuttynose Finestkind IPA is to a degree another incarnation of Smuttynose IPA, a beer I reviewed back in 2005 and have enjoyed several times since. That said, they’re not exactly the same beer as we’ll soon see.
Smuttynose has a habit of changing up their beers on a regular basis. Forest Gump, you see, might well have said life is like a Smuttynose beer, you never know what you’re gonna get. Look at Smuttynose’s double IPA, Big A IPA, and you’ll see what I mean. It wasn’t always a double IPA, it started life as a 7%, 70 IBU IPA in 2002, then went down to 6.6% ABV but up to 80 IBUs the following year. In 2004 it became an imperial IPA of 9% ABV and 100 IBUs, and the next year hit a whopping 120 IBUs and 9.2% ABV. It’s in that range today, although the hops continue to vary.
Back to Finestkind IPA. As I said, it’s not quite the same as the Smuttynose IPA I took notes on. See the specs below:
Smuttynose IPA: Simcoe, Santiams, and Amarillo hops are used. The beer has 65 IBUs and is about 7% alcohol by volume.
Smuttynose Finestkind IPA: Hops
Flavoring: Simcoe, Centennial, Santiam
Dry hops: Amarillo
The beer has 6.9% ABV and 75 IBUs.
Here’s what I think of Finestkind IPA:
Smuttynose Finestkind IPA pours to a bright orange color with a thick, towering rocky head of foam and a brilliant nose of bright citrusy hops. A thick layer of Brussels Lace forms on the sides of the glass and follows the liquid as it descends to the bottom. Taking a sip, the beer has a delicious bit of caramel malt up front, but only a bit: the malt is on the lighter side here. A hugely intense hoppiness quickly emerges. It’s bright and in your face with an intense grapefruit and pine tar flavor and a truly staggering long, dry, and sharp bitter hop finish.
I said of Smuttynose IPA in 2005 “the body is not as pronounced as in many American IPAs, and I don’t get the chewy caramel flavor common to the style. That only serves to make the beer more drinkable, however, and leaves the hops all the more pronounced.”
That’s exactly the case here, too, and a common theme of what folks call “West Coast IPA” these days, but I think is more aptly called San Diego IPA. After all, IPAs have been brewed on the west coast for decades that had more malt and less sharp biting hoppiness.
Whatever you call it, Smuttynose Finestkind IPA is absolutely amongst the finest kind you will ever find. It’s like a hop explosion in your mouth, and has so much wonderful hop flavor and bitterness it’s hard to put your glass down. Retailing around here for $9.99 it’s about average in price, though somehow I scored a six-pack on clearance at Kroger for a mere $5.04. More’s the puzzle that it had only come in a few weeks before and my bottles have a “Best By Date” of 5/04/14 on them.
Now that’s a bargain of the Finest kind, too.
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.