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Belt’s Beer Garden: I’ve Got the Blues

Haint Blue’s India Pale Ale & Blue Pants’ Hop Bursted

neon3

Alabama doesn’t have a ton of independent breweries yet...and I’ve talked before about how Alabama has been lacking in the beer department for a while. But I love finding beers from the Cotton State because, even though there aren’t too many breweries, the beer they make is usually very tasty.

So, when my friend asked me if I wanted to try a few brews from Blue Pants Brewing and Haint Blue, of course I said yes.

Up first, Blue Pants - one of the longest running breweries in the state.

My friend awarded me with Blue Pants’ year-round IPA, Hop Bursted, which is made with 17 different hops (including Falconers Flight Seven CS, Zythos, and Cascade hop oil) along with three malts. The six-pack ran me just a tad higher than normal at $11 but each can inside does pack a nice punch, with an 6.9% ABV and 75 IBU.

First, a little about Blue Pants. The brewery opened back in 2010 in Madison, Alabama, a “suburb” of Huntsville, and currently offers three year-round brews to go along with their four seasonal and eight specialty beers. You can currently find them in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

The beer poured a cloudy orangish/straw color with a massive amount of head. More than three full fingers of foam billowed upwards and caused me to have to stop pouring so my glass didn’t run over. The dense, semi-sticky off-white foam slowly faded away and, after a few minutes, I was finally able to add the final three ounces of beer into my cup.

Just from the scent it gave off you could tell how this IPA got its name…it was indeed bursting with hoppy goodness. Tropical fruits – like mango, papaya, pineapple, grapefruit and orange – lead the charge with some floral notes and an intriguing spicy hop resin settling in the background.

As soon as I took my first swig there was shock of carbonation that spiked on my tongue and lasted the entire length of the sip. The flavors really had to fight it out on top of the effervescence to make themselves known.

The hops, as they indicated they might taste in the aroma, began with a blast of those staple citrus flavors – mango, grapefruit, and tangy orange mostly – but also had a very floral flavor.

Midway through there was another burst of flavors but this one was much danker than the initial fruit flavors. It was a weedy, resinous flavor that mixed with some earthy pine and some sharp hoppy bitterness. The Cascade oil really showing off its qualities here.

Hop Bursted ended quite dry and had a strong lingering bitterness that teamed up with a dank, resinous pine aftertaste that refused to leave my palate until I took another sip or opted for a drink of water.

As I excavated the beer, the sticky head left some really nice lacing along the sides of my glass. And, while the 75 IBU might have been pretty noticeable, the 6.9% ABV was not at all.

I really enjoyed the initial burst of citrus and those easy to drink floral notes. But the long-lasting fizz from the carbonation and the lingering, bitter aftertaste weren’t my cup of tea (or should I say cup of beer, in this case). Starts of really strong…like really, really good…but, sadly, like the carbonation, it fizzles out at the end.

Next up, Haint Blue’s staple brew.

Haint Blue is one of a just a few breweries located in Mobile, Alabama and is named after the light shade of blue a lot of southern porches/houses are adorned with.

They’ve been around for just a few years and are currently in the process of building a cool, new taproom located in the building that used to be the city’s ice house until the late 1920s. Right now, you can only find them in Alabama and, from what I can see, they only offer a few brews…three to be exact. They have a seasonal porter and two year-round brews - a saffron saison called Marianne and an IPA named…India Pale Ale.

My friend grabbed me a solo bottle of their IPA for a mere $1.99 (a six-pack runs the average $10). There isn’t a whole lot about the brew on their site…just that it’s available all year and that it has a 6.5% ABV.

Haint Blue’s IPA poured a murky copper/amber hue with a nice amount of off-white head topping the beer. Nearly three fingers of dense, sticky foam separated me from the liquid below and it took a nice long while for the bubbles to fizzle away and grant access to the beer.

While I was anxiously waiting to start drinking the beer, I kept getting some sweet, balanced aromas from the brew. There was a solid caramel and bready malt that really stood out but, behind the malt, was some nice citrusy and earthy hops that sliced into the sugary malts with soft bitter notes.

When I was finally able to start drinking, the IPA began with a soft, subtle carbonated fizz that sits in the background throughout the entire tasting.

Just like they had with the taste, the malts lead off the flavors with some caramel-like sugary sweetness and a light cracker flavor but the hops didn’t take too long to really take over the profile…this is an IPA after all.

The hops really shine around the midpoint of the sip with a pop of bright citrus notes – lemon, orange zest, and grapefruit mostly. There is a grassy, somewhat floral, hop flavor imparted on the back of my tongue as it progresses and the citrus slowly begins to fade.

As everything begins to come to a close, the hops bring a bitterness that slowly, ever so slowly, attacked my tongue with that bitter sting they’re so well-known for. The malts could only do so much before the hops had their way.

This IPA ends with the flavors fading away somewhat quickly. However, they do leave behind some things to remember them by. What’s left is a sticky dryness that lasts for a decent while. But that dryness isn’t alone; joining it is some of that late-coming hoppy bitterness which now seemed to just sit on my taste buds for a while after everything else had already disappeared.

Overall though, this was a really nice IPA. It was quite balanced (until it wasn’t at the very end), had a really nice mixture of flavors, and was quite easy to drink – that 6.5% ABV being completely hidden. Good stuff here.