Taylor: And now for something completely different. A craft beer from Alaska! Well … that’s about all that’s different. Because Alaska IS a US state, and it IS on the west coast. So, even before I open my bottle of Alaskan Brewing Company‘s (based in Juneau) IPA, I know that I am going to be tasting some citrus hops.

I poured mine into my awesome new PHM pint glass (booyah!) and let it develop a nice big head. Before I even thought about stooping to smell it, fruity, citrusy aromas “hopped” up into my face. Awesome … must be fresh! The photo I took shows the beer is a light copper, but this beer is the exact same color as honey. It’s “honey gold” according to the brewer, and I wholeheartedly agree. I was in the mood for something crisp, fresh, and flavorful and this IPA is shaping up to really fit that bill.

After a first sip, I let the foam cover my upper lip and can’t hold back a smile. The Alaskan IPA is exactly what I was hoping for: bright, fruity, and not too big. It’s got a healthy dose of European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties (though not specific, I’d say the Americans dominate, as well they should), and without a doubt has been dry-hopped to achieve that awesome aroma. There are some pale malts in there, too, providing a bit of nutty sweetness, but really they’re just there to temper the bitterness. Like I said, this beer sits at 6.2% ABV, and is not at all boozy or heavy like some other IPAs. It is very drinkable … dangerously so!

I would put the overall bitterness/ABV profile of this American IPA on the milder side of the style. Some might argue it is somewhere between an APA and an IPA, but I think there is enough body there to deny the former. I am again reminded of New Glarus’ incredible Moon Man Pale Ale, which I would say is an APA that toys dangerously on the brink of IPA.

If I could stock Alaskan IPA and Moon Man together in my summer beer fridge, I would be a perfectly happy man indeed. Grade: A

Tom: I had heard about Alaskan Brewery from a book by Michael Jackson where he gave their Smoked Porter high marks so 1) I gathered they were probably a pretty good brewery and 2) I was excited to try a new brewery’s offering. Would this IPA be West Coast, Pacific Northwest, or purely Alaskan in style?

Eager to find out, I raised my tulip glass to eye level and found a nice bronze/copper hue with a fluffy hat of foam. The aroma was definitely more Pacific Northwest centered as it carried a nice piney resinous quality over a light citrus hop presence. In all honesty, I would equate it to Goose Island’s Green Line Pale Ale with a more pronounced pine aroma and taste. It was floral, a little spicy with hints of peach and pineapple fruits. I enjoyed this brew greatly because the malt was simple and light while the hops had just enough assertiveness to push it slightly over an APA. In addition, I happen to like the piney varieties of hops. It was crisp and at 6.2% you can throw back a few. Towards the end of each sip there was a minor mixture of herbal hops notes with grapefruit.

I found out this brew pairs well with a spicy buffalo chicken pizza quite well. Grade: A

Noel: This beer really surprised me…one of the first American IPAs I’ve had with that “fresh hop” aroma and crispness. Granted, I need to sample more west coast IPAs, but this is a great “entry beer” into that arena.

Bright, fruity hop notes jump out of the glass after you pour, but don’t beat your tongue to death as you sip. It’s fresh, crisp, and clean. The malts in the background do seem a little thin…almost pilsner-like, which I’m not quite used to in an IPA. But they aren’t front and center here, and don’t really detract from the awesome hop experience. I’m reminded of peaches at one point, and then lemons at another. And the carbonation and low-ish ABV add even more drinkability. If anything, the aftertaste makes me long for a slightly heavier malt bill and some lingering boozy sweetness. But there’s enough complexity there to keep me coming back for more.

While it tastes great on a snowy February day, this is a summer beer all the way. I certainly don’t regret picking up a sixer on my way home from Denver a month or so ago. Grade: A-