I don’t usually go for IPAs during the coldest months of the year…but I just couldn’t resist the elephant. I really have no idea what the story is behind the label on the bottle. It keeps reminding me of Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants, and I’m not sure what that has to do with the Rocky Mountains or IPAs. A pachyderm and snow capped peaks seem an odd couple, but for some reason…they work here. Interesting.

This was my first Fort Collins beer, and my expectations were at least somewhat high because of the reputation of Colorado breweries such as Great Divide and Boulder Beer Co. I suppose I wondered if it could hold its own. One whiff of its big floral bouquet, though, and I knew it was an above-average brew. A great reddish copper color and thick frothy head rounded out my initial observations. On to the tasting.

At 80 IBUs, Rocky Mountain IPA packs a hefty hop punch. Grassy and citrus notes batter your tongue, but finish smooth and pleasant, leaving just enough lingering bitterness to keep you coming back for more. While it isn’t a west coast IPA, it’s certainly no slouch. But the malts really are the unsung hero here…giving it an easier finish despite the hop intensity, as well as providing enough body to keep it from feeling too watery as it goes down (although I did find it a tad thin). You really don’t catch any sweetness from them so much as just a nice toastiness in the background. And the lacing is superb. As it warmed, I thought the hops took on much more grapefruit-like qualities. Yum.

All in all, Rocky Mountain is a solid flagship IPA that I’m sure many other microbreweries would pay dearly to call their own. I just wish it would’ve left me with a little bit more…some lingering uniqueness to make it stand out in the vast sea of American IPAs. But…I suppose the elephant isn’t half bad.