May is a strange month. It’s usually bright and sunny, but the temperature hovers in this not-quite-summer lukewarmness. This May is odder than most. It’s inconsistently warm, the sun shines, then doesn’t, and always the clouds. Blowing in, moving on, giving shade and rain, but just about always there. Clouds in May seem anachronistic. Like they’re a month late.
Look at those clouds. They’re clearly up to something.
Cloudiness in beer, on the other hand, is almost always welcome. Most beers filter out the yeast and other flotsam and jetsam of the brewing process, but some just leave it all hanging around. The results can be…interesting. Generally, there’s a textural difference – the beer is thicker in a very specific way – as well as a difference in flavor. To my mind, unfiltered beers always taste more like the actual grain they’re made from. Hence, Hefeweizens have that great clovey banana flavor combined with breadiness from the unfiltered wheat. German unfiltered lagers taste like roasted nuts to me for the same reason.
And so, we come to Southern Tier’s 2x Unfiltered IPA. I had never had an unfiltered IPA, but it sounded interesting, so I gave it a go. First, the style – which, to be clear, Southern Tier did not invent – is a win. It’s frothy, bready, and super hoppy, in a deliciously floral way. It laced beautifully and the head was stiff and bubbly, kind of like a cask conditioned ale. Everything balances each other, and the unfiltered texture and nutty flavors of the grain really complement the sharper flavor of the hop. It’s a great style.
However, I am not convinced I’ve had the best unfiltered IPA possible. Southern Tier is a very fine brewery, and this beer is very enjoyable and totally worth your time. It’s hazy gold, frothy, sweet…just an enjoyable glass of well-crafted beer. Another mark of a good beer: it got more delicious as it warmed a bit. The aromas really came forward as the temperature of the fluid came up, and the floral notes swelled into a rich bouquet.
The only issue I had was that I wanted more of every flavor. The floral hop flavor was wonderful, but not bold enough. The malts were delicious, but not as rich as they could be. I really love double IPAs, too, which this is supposed to be, but there are several that have much more potent hop flavor AND malt than this one does (Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Brooklyn Blast!, Founders Devil Dancer AND Double Trouble, I could go on). I would be really excited to have an unfiltered variant of one of those. That would make my beer-loving mouth water.
But, in the absence of those, Southern Tier 2x Unfiltered is a worthy and readily accessible substitute.