Branchline Brewing Co. (San Antonio, TX): 2nd Anniversary Ale

About the Brewery (from ):
Branchline Brewing Company is a production brewery based out of San Antonio, TX. We will focus on high quality craft beer utilizing local and regional ingredients whenever possible. Branchline Brewing Company’s focus is not only to provide our offering to the extreme craft beer drinker, but also to the casual drinker that enjoys a lighter product.

Branchline Brewing Co., San Antonio TX
Branchline Brewing Co., San Antonio TX

About the Beer (from the bottle):
This 2nd Anniversary bottle contains a beefed up, Belgian-style version of our year-round IPA. We craft this ale with American 2-Row, Crystal, Rye malts, Belgian candi syrup, and Belgian Strong Ale yeast. The result is a fruity, spicy, and tropical Belgian-style Imperial Rye IPA that is sure to please your taste buds. Two years down, and forever to go! Cheers!

Style: Belgian Imperial IPA
ABV: 10.67%
IBU: 90

I was sad to have missed the festivities at Branchline for their 2nd Anniversary. I wanted to go, but… life happens and sometimes you just can’t always do what you want. I was lucky enough to talk with Paul (Ford, head brewer) and Jason (Ard, co-owner) and be able to score a bottle of the special ale they brewed to commemorate the occasion. Year one was a Wheatwine, this year is an Imperial Belgian-style version of their WOODCUTTER Rye IPA, named (aptly enough) 2ND ANNIVERSARY ALE. Belgian IPAs are kind of hit or miss for me; occasionally I find one I like but more often than not I just don’t dig on the melding of the two disparate flavor profiles.

2nd Anniversary Ale, Belgian Imperial Rye IPA
2nd Anniversary Ale, Belgian Imperial Rye IPA

Pouring 2A into my Branchline chalice (from the 1st Anniversary), I get a deep ruddy hue topped with proliferate khaki head. The head grows and is very fluffy and full, more than what one would expect for an average IPA, but this isn’t an average IPA. When it does finally recede, the lacing left behind is magnificent; here’s those Belgian roots showing up (and the rye malt helps too). My nose tells me right away that this is most certainly a beer made with Belgian yeast, as the esters say fruit, and they are backed with spicy phenolic characteristics. I don’t get much from the hops on the nose, and would liked to have get more of that. What I did smell threw me off, and I could have sworn that this beer had Saaz or Tettang in it, but it doesn’t. I think what I was getting was the spicy rye characteristics mixing with the spicy phenolic yeast scents to make my brain think “spicy hops.”

That amazing lacing
That amazing lacing

Once I took a sip, the Belgian feel was cemented. Up front was very much of the funky, almost brettanomyces-like characteristic of the yeast. I would love to try a version of this beer bottled with some brett, I think that would really accentuate the flavors already there. This is followed with herbal, spicy notes from the rye and the yeast esters, and then it finishes out with a heavy bitterness that almost borders on heavy-handed but not quite. The bitterness of 2A coats the tongue and palate and as you drink more of this beer, it gets stronger and stronger. There’s the IPA-ness that I had not seen. I am more of a “aroma hops IPA” kind of guy, and this is most definitely a “bittering hops IPA.” 2A brings a bit of tobacco, pepper, woody-herbal flavor to the party, and backs it up with a dry and warming aftertaste.

My initial impressions
My initial impressions

The body on 2A is medium intensity, slick, and almost (but not quite) syrupy. It’s a bit thicker than many IPAs out there, but not as thick as some of the more malt-forward ones. The beer itself is something to be savored and sipped, never chugged. I think it would make a nice dinner-mate with a variety of foods, but won’t be one you’re going to pound while watching (Insert Your Sports Team Here) lose to their rivals. For a style that is hit or miss, this one is a hit for me. It grew on me the more of it I drank, and it most certainly got better as it warmed. Another solid offering from Branchline.

Overall 8 / 10

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