Ranger Creek (San Antonio, TX): Southtown IPA

About the Beer (from drinkrangercreek.com/san-antonio-brewery/seasonals-and-specialty-beers/):
Southtown IPA is Ranger Creek’s ode to San Antonio’s art district. For years, Southtown San Antonio has been home to the local, burgeoning art community. It was with this creative spirit in mind that this IPA was born. Brewed at 65 IBUs with Nugget, Centennial, and Chinook hops, this beer provides a dank, resinous hop profile up front and finishes with dry, citrus notes. However, it is the beer’s light body and high attenuation that allows this diverse hop bill to shine. We know how hot the Texas summer can get and that’s why we crafted this hop bomb with patio drinkers in mind. Drink up.

Style: American India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 65

Just in time for National IPA Day (I don’t know who christened this holiday, but it’s one I’d buy a card for!), August 1st, Ranger Creek released their new summer seasonal, SOUTHTOWN IPA. Described as “The IPA for patio drinkers!” I was obviously looking forward to checking it out, as I am a fan of a lot of Ranger Creek’s lineup, and I love me a good IPA. I was recently talking with Mark McDavid of Ranger Creek about their future releases, and I mentioned that (right now at least) my three favorite styles are IPAs, Barleywines, and Sours… one down, two to go.

STIPA fills the glass with a deep flaxen orange and an exuberant, creamy white head. On the first pour out of my growler (STIPA is a draft-only summer seasonal) it almost looked like a root beer float, sans the root. The head sticks around for a considerable time, and when it does calm down it leaves behind a thick layer of lace on the glass; you could scrape it off with a spoon if you were so inclined. Taking a whiff of the odors escaping, I get the malty backbone, some spice and pepper notes, and a soupçon of something almost akin to cinnamon, which I was surprised by at first. With a little more thinking about it, that slight trace of earthy spice probably was coming from the nugget hops used in the STIPA; my assumption would be that they were used late in the boil (but you know what they say about assuming).

Southtown: English Style IPA
Southtown: American Style IPA

The first little sip explodes with the dank hop profile; STIPA is very hoppy, and pretty bitter, and that is by far the first thing that jumps out kicks me in the teeth. I want to sit down one day and have an intelligent discussion with SOMEONE that can explain to me, truly, IBU ratings; the STIPA is listed as a 65 and I know that number can be quantified, as there is complex math in place to do so. After drinking this, I was enjoying one of my favorite go-to IPAs, Lagunitas’ MAXIMUS, which clocks in at 59 IBU, a mere 10% difference in a number, but a vast difference in bitterness. IBU is such a complicated thing that it almost has become – to quote Bill Shakespeare on this one – “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” I find the STIPA to be very much of a hop bomb, with a lot more of the hops power backing up the bitterness rather than the aroma, and for me that’s not my favorite way to use hops. Don’t misunderstand me: I like a good bitter IPA as much as any other hophead, but I personally prefer my hops to be heavier late in the boil rather than at the beginning, or even better let’s through a bunch in after the heat has gone away and let them sit for a week or two. The STIPA has a bit of malt behind the hop bomb, but it is not sweet at all; it is dry and crisp more akin with an English IPA than the more commonly known West-Coast style. Each sip I take, that bitterness builds on the exit and increases, and by the end of my glass my tongue is slathered in bitter hop resin. There is a small touch of fruitiness from the hops as well, but not nearly the piney and tropical type flavors I’d really expect from this trio of hops.

The STIPA in a RC pint glass, showing off that beer-float like head
The STIPA in a RC pint glass, showing off that beer-float like head

On my palate, the STIPA is smooth and playful. The carbonation is strong, but not overly so, and the small and zesty bubbles maintain throughout my glass and tickle the tongue even at the consummation of the contents. The STIPA is not hard to drink at all, as long as you are down for the bitter; if you are not one that likes the lupulin, this will not be the beer for you. If you do enjoy the more bitter brews, and will enjoy the ever-increasing bitter build-up, the STIPA is easily drinkable, and almost sessionable. Though at 6.5% don’t have too many if you have to go anywhere… sessionable at YOUR HOUSE from YOUR GROWLER. Overall the STIPA is a nice addition to the world of IPAs, but for my tastes it is just a bit too heavy on the bittering hops and a bit too light on the aroma, but that’s the wonderful thing about beer: that’s my tastes. Not yours.

Overall 6.5 / 10

Brewery site: http://www.drinkrangercreek.com/

Beer page: http://www.drinkrangercreek.com/san-antonio-brewery/seasonals-and-specialty-beers/

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