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Indica IPA

Lost Coast Brewery
Eureka, CA
USA
http://www.lostcoast.com

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 6.5%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)


Comments:
A recent visit to Eddie Glick’s parent’s basement (I occasionally swing by to bring him a batch of brownies and some nudie mags) brought about this interesting question:

What’s up with Lost Coast?

It’s not exactly the penetrating, intellectual question you’ve come to expect from us here at BeerDorks.com, but it’s an intriguing query nonetheless. From Eddie’s standpoint, it was the fact that Lost Coast is just that … an isolated, remote piece of coastline in northern California, some 200 miles north of San Francisco and nearly 100 miles south of the Oregon border. To translate that for the geographically challenged, it’s in the middle of freakin’ nowhere. How does a relatively small brewery in a small town (Eureka, population 26,000) in an isolated region of the West Coast find themselves on store shelves throughout the country?

My argument is that in this day and age, geography has nothing to do with it. Sure, in days of yore communication and transportation were heavily effected by various types of geographic impediments. Not so in the 21st century and NoCal’s craft beer mini-mecca is a perfect example. The internet has transformed communication, so any business of quality need only develop a small, loyal following that’s willing to spread the word in order to see their product gain instant notoriety. And be it by land, sea, or air, transportation is not a huge issue … the days of covered wagons navigating the treacherous Oregon Trail on the Apple IIe is long since over (anyone under the age of 30 will likely not get that reference). Thus, a thriving region that was once known mainly for vineyards and giant redwoods has become a center for craft beer.

With that in mind, I’d like to delve into Lost Coast Indica IPA. One thing that seems to hold true amongst craft brewers from the West Coast, NoCal in particular, is a love of hops. As I’ve said before, this makes perfect sense given the fact that the Pacific Northwest, which includes far Northern California, is the undisputed champion of hops cultivation in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. Any craft brewer, regardless of the ease of transportation and importing in this day and age, is going to rely heavily on what’s local. Thus, a number of fine, über-hoppy brews originate here, including beer styles that aren’t necessarily meant to be hoppy but seem to turn out that way in NoCal. Good luck, Indica, as I have extremely high standards when it comes to California IPAs.

Indica pours with a frothy white head of over an inch that slowly dissipates, leaving a prolific, pillowy lace throughout the drink with some residue on the side of the glass. A perfect cloudy, copper hue, there’s some hints of sedimentation that proves this is a fine, natural, unfiltered brew. If you had an expectation of what an American IPA should look like in the glass, this would be a textbook example.

The aroma is, as you’d expect from a Northwest hop monster, pleasant and powerful. Huge notes of American hops inundate the nostrils, with aromas equal parts floral, bitter, sweet, and earthy. Just as I was hoping, Indica, like some of its local brethren, smells so crisp in the hops department that you’d swear you had stuck your nose in a fresh batch of wet hops. Light, sugary malt and an earthy graininess provide a nice, balanced backbone to the dominant hop aroma, making Indica a perfect IPA up to this point.

Unfortunately, it can’t quite maintain that perfect record upon the first sip. While it’s extremely good, there’s not much to distinguish it from a plethora of other fine American IPAs. And that, of course, isn’t a slam on Indica, but rather a testament to the quality of the American craft beer scene. Indica is crisp, refreshing, and balanced, with an initial hoppy shot of citrus zest (grapefruit and orange peel) followed by a distinct piney bitterness. Light, sugary malt comes through next, with caramel and brown sugar leading the way, followed by the earthier elements of the barley malt, giving it a slight bready texture. Extremely smooth and medium bodied (a touch light for an IPA), Indica goes down well with a slight hoppy aftertaste that lingers for a bit. Given the overall characteristics, it’s a prime candidate for a session brew, but perhaps a bit high in ABV for many to consider it as such (6.5 percent).

While I thoroughly enjoyed Indica, it’s nothing more than a solid four mugger, meaning there are plenty of IPAs out there that I’d prefer, including many more localized ones. To their credit, Lost Coast didn’t fail in their initial attempt to impress me, but it doesn’t put to rest my common argument that with so many fine local versions available, we may not need to bring one in all the way from Northern California. But, we’ll save that debate for another day. In the meantime, if you enjoy the hoppy goodness of the Pacific Northwest, give Indica a shot. It may not blow you away, but it’ll certainly leave you satisfied.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on June 16, 2009.
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