Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lawson's Finest Big Hapi

Lawson's Finest Big Hapi  "IBA" is an Imperial Black Ale. As the American craft beer industry continues to expand the boundaries regarding styles it seems anything can be Imperialized, exemplifying bigger and bolder versions of existing styles. May also be referred to as a Black IPA. Once again I found myself at The Farmhouse sampling this and seeing what was on rotation.

Alcohol Content: 7.5%
IBU: ?
Malts: 7 varieties - not specified
Hops: 5 varieties - not specified

Price: $4.50/ half; $8.50/ full
Medium: Small snifter glass

Aroma: Strong, resinous, grassy hops with citrus notes overwhelm the nose. In the background lies a dried fruity character, possibly a combination of both hops and malts. Supporting roasted grain aromas are cocoa-like but not as forward or strong as the hop aromas. Light fruity esters in background.
Appearance: Presents a very dark (black) or opaque under regular light. Towards the end of the session it became easier to see some darker browns and garnet colors. A thick, bubbly, steady brown head billowed up while pouring, combined with lots of lacing. This surprisingly collected around the rim of the glass and disappeared after a few minutes.
Flavor: Bittersweet malts upfront, sort of cocoa-like and/or light coffee roast along with a dried fruit character. This holds up to a very resinous or sticky bitterness reminiscent of tropical fruity citrus. Malts come back around in the finish with a moderately-light roast. The cocoa/ coffee-like character becomes more apparent at this time. Small bite to the finish with some lingering dryness from hops. Favored slightly more towards hops with a nice supporting grain bill.
Mouthfeel: Some sourness or vinegar-like effect, especially on the sides of the tongue. This is accompanied by a drying and warm prickling feel. May also be perceived as oily or moderately thin. On the other hand I get a decent body with even some chewiness to the malt character. Carbonation moderate. Hop resins coat the mouth but not in a deterring way.
Overall Impression: The bartender informed me that the color was derived more from Carafa II malt, which lends less of a roasted or astringent character. An ideal spring beer (or all seasons) due to the refreshing hop character as well as supporting roasted grain flavors and aromas. Savor it with dark, roasted meats or hearty foods to match the alcohol strength and grain character - the hops shouldn't interfere too much.

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