Recently I took a trip to Atlanta to see my friend Thomas and to take a trip to Athens. I know I can always look forward to a lot of laughs and a lot of time spent drinking good beer. Our main goal was to take a trip to Athens to check out Terrapin and another brewery called Creature Comforts. If you’ve never heard of them, believe me, you will soon. Their brewery/taproom is beautiful: reclaimed wood everywhere and it’s housed in what used to be an old tire shop in a downtown section of Athens. Anyways, after our trek to bulldog country, I knew I had to make a stop at one of my favorite beer stores to grab some supplies before I made it back to Alabama. Green’s always has a great selection of local beer from the area and sometimes, we even get the stuff in Alabama too. This time I picked up a six-pack of Red Brick’s Hoplanta IPA. I love Red Brick probably more than I like Sweetwater. All of their beers just taste better, and really, I find that when I drink a Red Brick beer it’s more sessionable, regardless of style, than any of Sweetwater’s brews. Here are my thoughts on the Hoplanta IPA from Red Brick:
First of all, Red Brick has recently gone under a rebranding and it is loads better than what it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, the labels were fun, but that plain Jane labeling style is only fun for so long. The new and improved branding is much more up to date and much more colorful. Here’s a side-by-side of the old versus the new: (insert label picture here)
I don’t want to jump to assumptions, but I believe the six-pack I got may have been a little old. When I poured, there was almost zero carbonation present. After the quarter of a finger width of white, frothy foam settled, it left a think splotchy film on top of the beer with some thin lacing around the glass. The color was about par for the course for an IPA; a slightly hazy amber color with some more lighter orange colors reaching the outer edges of the glass. The aroma is very nice, as with most Red Brick beers; strong in the way of citrus fruits mixed in with some pine notes as well as some bread-like malts that kind of brought it all together.
The taste of this beer is East Coast all the way, because of very strong citrus flavors and a powerful backbone of caramel and malt. Upfront you get a lot of caramel notes which soon fade after the hop character arrives on the back of your tongue and moves forward slowly. You get a lot of hop bitterness, but not as much of the citrus bitterness as I would like. See, here’s my dilemma, I really like some beers that rely on the hops to get your bitterness, but at the same time, I really love when beers can showcase the citrus and provide the beers entire bitterness from a wide variety of citrus fruits. Either way, this one has a lot of hop bitterness toward the back end of the beer. Finally, it finishes with a little bit of an alcohol burn, which is surprising considering it’s only a little over six and a half percent. Going on taste alone, I would be willing to say that Red Brick has Sweetwater beat across the board. I think there’s a fine line you cross on production for when you begin to lose flavor in exchange for more bottles filled. Red Brick has tons of great beers on its roster and this one is no different.
The mouthfeel on this one was a slight letdown for me. Again, like I stated earlier, I could just have an older batch and that could be the reasoning for everything. There was almost zero carbonation detected through the whole beer and even on my tongue it felt uncarbonated. This was a pretty big bummer, and I know that I’m a snob for carbonating just right, but I want a little bit of something there to remind me it’s a beer. The beer feels slightly thick on the palate and a little heavy on the stomach as well. I definitely don’t think I could drink multiples of this one and be good to go. Either way, the mouthfeel did not accentuate the beer in any way and it actually made for somewhat of a disappointing ending to each drink.
Overall, I just hope this was a bad bottle and not what the fine people over at Red Brick intended for me to drink. The flavor was great, but I think the age of the beer was what killed it for me. I hope that we’re getting better stuff in Alabama and not this under carbonated lesser of an IPA that I drank. Although, I’ve had this beer before and it’s been better. Keeping that in mind, I will absolutely buy this one again and again. Support the smaller guys out there and give them a chance. I can’t wait to make it back to Atlanta and the Red Brick tap room again so I can try something else wild and possibly find a new favorite, but more importantly, get a fresh Hoplanta that I know is up to code.

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