Monday, November 23, 2009

Jumpin' Jack Flash

Long live American Craft Beer! While the craft beer boom has been amazing here in the United States over the past decade, it really started in earnest only a few years earlier around the mid 1990's, yet there are a handful of craft breweries that have been champions of the industry for much longer than that. One of these pioneers is the Boulder Beer Company located in Boulder, Colorado, which is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this year.

The brewery was founded in 1979 when "two Colorado University professors applied for and received the 43rd brewing license issued in the United States." Over the years they have grown considerably, now distributing in 30 states and holding a spot amongst the Top Fifty Craft Brewers in America, according to the Brewers Association. Their biggest reason for growth in recent years has arguably been the popularity and expansion of their Looking Glass Series of beers, which includes favorites such as Hazed and Infused and Mojo IPA. For their 30th anniversary, Boulder revisited the series once again by introducing Flashback Anniversary Ale, an India Brown Ale. What is an India Brown Ale, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, it's a hoppier version of the Brown Ale style, which traditionally leans toward the malty and sweet side of things overall.

So, what is presented here is a deep amber beer that does indeed come across with a big roasted malt profile in the aroma, and also gives off a very healthy dose of bread notes, along with a good bit of pine from the hops. This continues on into the flavor with a lot more of the roasted malt coming through, to the point where a bit of smokiness is almost brought out at times. Hops are mostly picked up toward the finish of each sip where the aforementioned pine blends with a nice burst of citrus and provides a good bit of slickness to the mouthfeel.

This one is definitely what it set out to be: a hoppy brown ale, and I liked it yet can't completely wrap my head around it. The hops seemed out of place, yet very much enjoyable at the same time. Maybe it was just a matter of experiencing the style in a new way. Every time I caught myself feeling that I wasn't crazy about it, I was drawn back in for another sip. It certainly makes you think, and I like that. It's one of the more interesting and unique beers that I've experienced in some time. Personally, I usually prefer a heartier/maltier/rugged/chocolaty brown ale, but that's not what Boulder was going for here and I think they did a nice job with a slight twist on the style. It's a worthwhile addition to the Boulder family for sure.

Congrats on 30 years and here's to (at least) 30 more!

Hopback, beer, Boulder, Colorado, 30th Anniversary, Flashback, Hazed and Infused, Mojo IPA, Looking Glass