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Beer Reviews

Lost Continent Double IPA

Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Victor, ID
USA
http://www.grandtetonbrewing.com

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 8.0%

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


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Sometimes a change of scenery alters one’s perspective and increases one’s desire to try something new.

Case in point: Grand Teton Brewing Co. based in Victor, Idaho. Grand Teton is readily available in most markets west of the Mississippi and I see plenty of options from them available in Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest as well. However, with a plethora of top notch local options available, a true Midwestern Dork tends to stick closer to home rather than taking a flyer on some random brewery in Idaho. When I think of Idaho, I think of potatoes, the ridiculous blue turf at the football stadium in Boise, and Napoleon Dynamite. Not beer.

However, as Vacation 2012 took us further west and the mountains and cool spring air filled our senses, it seemed much more appealing to try a brewery from Idaho, particularly one that has Western images on their packaging and names like Old Faithful Ale and Teton Ale (as has been noted many times on this site, Nigel loves clever marketing). Also in the Grand Teton lineup is the widely distributed Bitch Creek, as well as one of my all-time favorite beer names, Snarling Badger. If you don’t think sitting at a dinner table in the historic Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming and uttering the words “gimme a Bitch Creek” is fun, then you don’t have a pulse. Top that off with an ornery old cowboy slicing prime rib at the buffet while cursing at diners, and it’s just as I pictured Wyoming to be.

Grand Teton is a typical Rocky Mountain brewery, which means that Northwest hops play a key role, even in brews that aren’t considered APAs or IPAs. Case in point would be the aforementioned Bitch Creek, which has the body and profile of a standard brown ale, but has a distinct hoppy bite to it. As is often the case when I’m out West, I stick with what the brewer knows and go for hops. While in Wyoming, I also sampled Grand Teton’s Sweetgrass American Pale Ale, which was good for a standard APA, as well as Old Faithful Ale, which was a timid Blonde Ale that did not impress … further proof that Grand Teton is at their best when they incorporate hops.

Victor is in southeastern Idaho, not too far west of the Wyoming border and Grand Teton National Park. While we spent three days at Yellowstone, which borders Grand Teton to the north, we did not venture down that way due to lingering snow cover and road closures. However, per the better half’s orders, we did take a 45 minute road trip from our hotel in West Yellowstone into Idaho. Other than a blurry photo from the car window of a “Welcome to Idaho” sign and some pronghorn grazing in a field (was it a potato field? I doubt it … ) we saw only mountains and thunderhead clouds from an approaching storm.

Lost Continent is one of the most familiar faces in the Grand Teton lineup, one that I’ve often found locally. It pops open with a nice haze and an awesome waft of Northwest hops that instantly hits the nostrils with floral, bitter bliss. The pour reveals mild carbonation as a creamy head just under an inch thick slowly dissipates, leaving some mild residue on the sides of the glass for the remainder of the session. A cloudy, coppery hue with little in the way of sediment, it looks as rich and appealing as I hoped it would. Aromas are pure Northwest hops, with a touch of sugary malt. No specific hop seems to dominate, though clearly there are plenty of players in what is a light, floral, bitter aroma with hints of evergreen. Malt is present with a caramel-like sugary backbone that balances well. Like the visual profile, the aroma is both complex and pleasant.

A complex flavor finishes off a solid imperial IPA, one that typifies how many brewers in the Rocky Mountain region interpret the style. Big hoppy flavors pummel the tongue from the outset, and once again it’s clear there are multiple varieties present. Considering the many nuances of Northwest hops, it makes for a tasty brew that changes ever so slightly with each sip. Initial flavors are crisp, with the bitterness quickly eased by notes both floral and citrusy, in addition to hints of evergreen. Cool, crisp, piney … sounds like the perfect brew for the Rockies and for hopheads, so you can only imagine the euphoria this hophead experienced while drinking it while reminiscing of our days in Yellowstone. It’s not simply a hop monster, however, as a nice balance of light sugary caramel is present, giving it a smoother body and a sweetness that curls the tongue a bit. For an imperial IPA, it’s on the more drinkable side of the scale in terms of body and smoothness, making it a pleasurable sip and allowing for more than one during a prolonged session if one is so inclined.

All in all Lost Continent is a very good, though not quite a top notch example of an imperial IPA. Grand Teton delivers a solid brew that gives any hop lover a taste of the “best of the west,” one that’s powerful but remains quite drinkable. The flavor and aroma of Lost Continent will always remind me of those cool April nights in Wyoming and Montana and will surely satisfy any Midwestern Dork who can find it locally.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on October 1, 2012.
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