To Beer Style.. Or Not?!

So last night Nick and a couple of friends of ours had a beer from Shipyard called “Little Horror of Hops”. The packaging made it seem like this thing was going to slit my throat with IBU’s and then hop cones would start spilling out. And it said IPA on the label. Little did I know I was being mislead, or was I?

I hate, well that might be too harsh, I am disenchanted with marketing departments or marketing firms because they “think” they know what we want, what we need, then try to frame a product around a lure, something catchy. And I think that sometimes a beer label and sometimes styles are “pointed” in the wrong direction because of this.

The beer mentioned above is touted as

.. a hoppy Rye IPA balanced by a complex malt blend. Peppery spice notes and a robust citrus hop flavor complement the dry hop finish.

We poured, we tasted, and the verdict? We had almost NO hop aroma or taste! Was my nose broken? Could both our noses be broken? I had no peppery spice notes and no robust citrus, I tasted no complexity to it’s malts, but tasted more to the tune of crackers, a tinge of malt. It was dry and the ABV was within range, so I give them that. And it did have a clean, “non-yeasty” taste. I’ll quote BJCP 2015 Style Guidelines

A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American and New World hop varieties and rye malt. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dry finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

So while this beer “fits” in the “Specialty IPA: Rye IPA” category because of its “content”, or because of what it’s made of, I don’t feel it was executed to the overall impression of the style. So, I have mixed feelings on it. To say it’s a “bad” beer is not correct, it was decent and I would drink it again. And apt expression is it’s a slightly conflicted beer. And the reason it’s conflicted is because of the marketing. If someone had said “here’s a Pale Ale with rye” I would have bought into it and said “ah this is pretty good for a Pale with some rye!”

There are many times that beers labels state something and deliver on a something else. It happens all the time. And perhaps we had an older bottle. I didn’t get to look at the date code. But based on our initial impressions it wasn’t stellar. We’d love to try this on-tap somewhere, we feel it would probably showcase what the brewer expected the final product to taste like.

If you, dear beer reader, has had a better experience with this beer than we did, please post a reply and let us know! As they say “you can’t win them all” and we like most of Shipyard’s beers a lot, but this one hit an iceberg for us.

– Chris

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