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Huma-Lupa-Licious

Short’s Brewing Company
Bellaire, MI
USA
http://www.shortsbrewing.com/

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)


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You probably haven’t heard of Short’s Brewing. Founded by a dude named Joe Short in Bellaire, Michigan, it’s a small but ultra funky craft brewery that is about to get much bigger. He’s gotten tons of acclaim for making both solid, down-to-earth brews and out-of-this-world specialty releases (bourbon barrel-aged, 15 percent ABV triple IPA, anyone?), and after BeerAdvocate Magazine did a profile on him and his beers demand went through the roof. He’s in the process of building a new, much larger brewery that will bottle and can his concoctions, but until then you can only get the stuff on draft in Michigan, or a few bottles at the brewpub in Bellaire.

So that’s the skinny. But how’s the beer? Huma-Lupa-Licious, being an IPA, gets it’s Latin-y tag from the scientific name for the hop plant, Humulus Lupulus. (The Licious part comes from, I can only assume, bootylicious.) So that means it sure as shit better be hoppy. Don’t worry, Huma-Lupa-Licious has got that covered in spades.

The pour from the tapper at the HopCat arrives with a thick, super goopy head sitting aplop a glowing orange/dark amber body. The nose is not huge, not even close … for an IPA. What there is, though, is all hops, with strong grapefruit and dark citrus notes, along the lines of Centennial. In fact, not a very notable nose at all.

That subdued aroma is just a feint, though, because the first sip is like a left hook to the jaw. Hops! Hops! Hops! A hard, medium body is the vehicle for a blasting bitterness through and through. Clean, sharp biting bitterness up front, orange-peel citrusy bitterness in the middle, and a mix of both, along with some earthy hop notes, bringing up the rear. The bitterness is so intense that it renders any malt absolutely invisible. As the beer warms a tiny nip of surprising sweetness comes through at the extreme front of the sip, but otherwise the hops dominate like no other commercial IPA I’ve ever had … outside of Portland.

And, although I am a hophead, that isn’t an entirely good thing. It’s completely unbalanced, even for an IPA. Which is why I’m giving it a three mug rating instead of four. It is certainly drinkable and, yes, quote enjoyable—if you like your beers hoppier than all get out. But I kept comparing it to Surly Furious, an IPA that’s hopped just as aggressively, but has a big malt presence to back things up and keep things from flying out of control. And, really, that is what makes an IPA go from good to great: balance. Anyone can throw boatloads of hops in a brew—although, admittedly, Short does create an interesting amalgamation of different bittering and flavoring hops—but striking that ideal balance is the hallmark of an accomplished brewer. Although Huma-Lupa-Licious is an enjoyable, hop-happy beer—and I can’t wait to try more of Joe Short’s stuff—I can’t yet rank it in the upper echelons of Midwest IPAs.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on September 29, 2008.
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