This past Thirsty Thursday, Limpd, The ROK, The Wookie, and yours truly got together in my dining room for a complete “deconstruction” of the Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA 12 pack that I found in my backyard, thanks to last week’s random “beering” by our friend, The Alemonger. Unfortunately, The Alemonger couldn’t join us, so we soldiered on without him. He has a 12 pack of his very own, so I’m sure he’ll leave some colorful commentary for us in the not too distant future.
For those of you that don’t know what this deconstruction business is all about, I first heard about this Samuel Adams release via a blog post by Jim Galligan of the Beer & Whiskey Brothers. If you’re not familiar with the Latitude 48 IPA, here is what the people at Samuel Adams have to say about it:
“Samuel Adams® Latitude 48 IPA is a unique IPA brewed with a select blend of hops from top German, English, and American growing regions all located close to the 48th latitude within the “hop belt” of the Northern Hemisphere. The combination of hops in this beer creates a distinctive but not overpowering hop character. The beer is dry hopped with Ahtanum, Simcoe®*, and East Kent Goldings hops for a powerful citrus and earthy aroma. The hop character is balanced by a slight sweetness and full body from the malt blend.”
In a nutshell, this 12 pack contains 6 different IPAs. One with all of the hops listed above (THE Latitude 48), and 5 other IPAs made from each of the individual hops (the three listed above plus two more). Since I still consider myself a novice when it comes to craft beer, I thought this would be a great way to learn more about the art and science of craft brewing.
After a daily barrage of “Are we gonna crack that case open tonight?” emails from The Wookie, we were finally able to get the four of us together for a proper tasting. Although we live within 100 feet of each other, mid-week obligations kept us from gathering until Thirsty Thursday. Seems fitting no?
The ROK and The Wookie arrived at 9:30, and we quickly started setting up for the tasting. In addition to the beer, The Wookie brought over a case of tasting glasses and a set of beer tasting place mats that he designed specifically for this event (click the link for your very own “limited edition” copy: Lat 48 – Tasting Flight Mat). Since Limpd wasn’t going to make it over until after 10PM (he blamed his tardiness on his kids. Shame on him!), we decided to start without him. Keep in mind that while all of this was going on, Mrs. G-LO was seated on the couch, catching up on all of her favorite TV shows, i.e. American Idol, Glee, and Nurse Jackie (for the record, we did extend an invitation to sample the beers, but she declined). Thanks to the Wife’s TV watching, we repeatedly had to redirect The ROK’s attention, since we caught him sneaking a peek at an episode of Glee on more than one occasion. Beer tasting is serious business. Focus Man! FOCUS!
Limpd arrived by 10:15PM, and he immediately started playing catch-up. He was up to speed within 10 minutes! We looked, sniffed, tasted, and took notes. At about 10:30, Mrs. G-LO decided that she’d heard enough of our comments, and headed off to bed. But before heading up, she popped her head into the dining room to see what we were up to. She was ok with the twelve bottles of beer. She was also ok with the tasting glasses and custom made place mats. But for whatever reason, she was shocked to see a box of Carr’s Water Crackers that we were using as palate cleansers between rounds! I don’t get it. Anyway…
After the tasting was over, I collected our place mats and put them away until it was time to write this post. Although our penmanship is horrendous (I’m sure the beer didn’t help us to write legibly either), I think I was able to decipher our notes correctly. Here they are…
Beer #1: Latitude 48 IPA – All 5 Hops
- Limpd: Amber color. Hoppy, citrus aroma. Hoppy, smooth taste with a slightly bitter finish.
- The ROK: “Orangy”, golden amber, and copper color. Light grain aroma. Tastes like Hops! Hops! Hops!
- The Wookie: Clear, copper color. Light aroma. Hoppy, piney taste.
- G-LO: Reddish-orange color. Citrus, pine, and herbal aroma. Well balanced flavors with moderate hop bitterness.
Beer #2: Latitude 48 IPA – Hallertau Mittelfrueh German Hops only
- Limpd: Also amber colored. No aroma detected. Simple, clean, and crisp taste, but without much taste and a really weak finish.
- The ROK: Golden amber color. Mild, floral aroma. A flavorful delight!
- The Wookie: Clear, copper color. Light aroma. Floral, sweet, and herbal taste.
- G-LO: Reddish-orange color. Rosemary, eucalyptus, and other herbal aromas. Light, floral taste.
Beer #3: Latitude 48 IPA – East Kent Goldings English Hops only
- Limpd: Amberish color. Flat, slightly funky aroma. Thin, bitterish taste.
- The ROK: Golden amber color. Very mild aroma, i.e. not much of it. Tastes like a mild lager.
- The Wookie: Clear, copper color. Smells like a beer and has some caramel aroma. Tastes like a Yuengling Lager with citrus blended in.
- G-LO: Reddish-orange color. Has that classic lager aroma. Tastes like a Yuengling Lager.
Beer #4: Latitude 48 IPA – Ahtanum Washington State Hops only
- Limpd: Ambertastic color! Citrus, hoppy aroma. Slightly bitter taste. Nice finish.
- The ROK: Golden amber color. Not much aroma. Smooth, mild, and fruity taste.
- The Wookie: Clear, copper color. Honey aroma. Tastes mildly sweet (honey once again!).
- G-LO: Reddish-orange color. Mild and not very fragrant. Mild hop taste.
Beer #5: Latitude 48 IPA – Simcoe Washington State Hops only
- Limpd: Amberific color! Citrus, hoppy aroma. True IPA taste. Nice bitter finish.
- The ROK: Golden amber color. Citrus, grapefruit aroma. Very drinkable. Zippy and strong up front. A finish that grabs you by the tonsils.
- The Wookie: Clear, copper color. Pine!!, cat piss, and grapefruit aroma. Astringent taste. Harsh finish.
- G-LO: Reddish-orange color. Heavy grapefruit aroma. The citrus aroma carries through to the taste. Bright, citrus finsh.
Beer #6: Latitude 48 IPA – Zeus Washington State Hops only
- Limpd: Red color (no amber this time!). Hoppy, pine aroma. Nice taste. A little more bitter than the Simcoe.
- The ROK: Golden amber color. Strong aroma! Bold and bitter taste.
- The Wookie: Clear, copper color. Piney aroma. Bitter and piney taste.
- G-LO: Reddish-orange color. Tangerine and pine aroma. Bitter taste. Astringent finish and aftertaste.
In case you couldn’t tell from our notes, we didn’t notice much of an appearance difference between these six IPAs. As expected, the biggest difference between them was in the aroma and in the taste. The Simcoe hopped version of the Latitude 48 was probably our favorite. It has that huge citrus bouquet and hop bitterness that we’ve come to enjoy from a world class American IPA (think Ballast Point, Green Flash, Stone, etc.). While the other four single hopped IPAs weren’t very special, it was a great experience to try them, and see how they stand on their own. I can now understand why a brewer would use more than one variety of a particular ingredient when crafting a beer. As far as the actual Latitude 48 IPA goes (the five hops version), it may not be world class, but it’s not that far behind either. I would classify it as a good, value priced IPA, or a great starter IPA for those that aren’t familiar with the style. Once again, I applaud Samuel Adams for bringing craft beer to the masses and teaching us about what goes into the making of a great beer. The Beer and Whiskey Brothers described it perfectly… the Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed truly is Beer School In a Box!