A new variation of their Mad Hatter IPA since last time I sampled a flight of them in 2010. This one incorporates an interesting Belgian yeast strain to the mix which pairs rather well with the hop profile.
Do not be fooled by the old “American Gothic” farmer on the label as this beer is lively and effervescent. The head quickly rose as I slowly poured this beer. The marmalade color beer bubbled excitedly making me think it was bottle conditioned. Towards the end of the bottle some yeast sediment made my once clear beer cloudy so I guess you could say a partial fermentation took place in the bottle.
The aroma had a kick, and I don’t mean in a boozy way. After all, it only has an abv of 5 and some change so this could be a nice aperitif or paired with a starting course. There were great bubblegum notes, strawberry, melon, lemon, and lemongrass up front. Deeper notes of white pepper, citrus and grassy hops, and bready yeast. It was spicy at first and as you poured more of the bottle out it become more mellowed (most likely due to the yeast). Light and lively.
The taste was exactly like the smell. Up front the tangy yeast and spicy hops awakened the palate each sip. The smooth, slightly creamy middle, was bready like a blond ale. This then transitioned into the best part of the beer. The finish! All the above mentioned aromas converged on the back half of my palate to create a spicy medley of flavor. Sharper notes of pepper and hops tickled the tongue while bubblegum fruitiness gave some relief. The aftertaste was relatively Pil-like with a herbal hop quality. Not my favorite variation, but good in its own right.