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Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA

This is my first time trying Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA because they started distributing to Illinois just as I moved to Pennsylvania. I have been able to pick up the Double Jack and Walker’s Reserve in the past because they hit the Chicago market before their other beers. It is now available there, despite that the Firestone Walker website has not been updated to reflect that.

Union Jack abounds with hop aroma and character. In fact this well balanced, west coast IPA is double dry hopped, giving it more and more of the grapefruit, citrus hop aroma and flavor it is known for. Overall it utilizes over four pounds of pacific-northwest hops per barrel.

Holy Hops, Batman! Warrior and simcoe hops for bittering, and centennial and cascade hops are the late kettels. It’s dry hopped with amarillo, cascade, centennial, chinook and simcoe. These are all words I like. This particular bottle was bottled on December 12, 2011, thus within the 110 days that FW recommends their beer be consumed in (91 to be exact; Thanks, Wolfram Alpha!)

Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA
Union Jack IPA pours a beautiful light shade of goldenrod into my imperial pint glass. It's surprising how clear it is; though not to the extent of lighter beers like pilsners and kolsches, I can still see my computer screen through it when I hold it up. There was only about a half inch of white head, which dissipated fairly quickly, leaving a ring of bubbles around the glass, and then a thinner layer on top.As I drank there was some lacing, but not a lot.
I could smell the hops in this beer when I opened it, and especially as I was pouring it. It smelled very clean and pleasant, and fairly floral. When I breathe deep (/stick my nose into the glass), I start to get some piney attributes. I start tasting the simcoe hops at that point, which make me want to stop smelling so deeply (they're not my favorite), and go back to the more floral, initial level of the aroma
My first reaction? Wow. This beer has so much flavor in it, and for the most part it's extremely well balanced. One thing I find particularly fascinating is how the hop highlighted in the beer seems to change within each sip. I've had many beers that differ across their consumption, but not within each drink. It starts out really bright, then progresses to a more floral/grassy taste, finishing with a piney/resinyness that sits on the tongue. I wish there was another flavor to complement/cut the pineyness. I'm discovering more and more that I'm not a piney-hop person. Let's just call it an extension of the 'Bombay Sapphire Night of 2008' into beer. One thing to note is that as the beer warms up, this aftertaste becomes much less pronounced.
I really enjoy the mouthfeel of this beer; for being a 7.50% IPA, it's quite light. A nice level of carbonation, even though I wasn't sure there would be due to the thin head to begin with
A sixer of this is $11.99 at Binny's in Chicago, which actually is kind of on the expensive side. For comparison, a sixer of Stone IPA is 10.99.
I think that overall this is a really fine example of an American IPA. I appreciate that they've taken the approach of balance in their flagship IPA, as opposed to trying to smack me in the face with bitterness and be over the top. I can't say that I would really seek it out, but that is because of my tastes deviating from one of the dominant flavors, not because in any way it being less than wonderful brew.

Beer Stats
Style: American IPA
Serving: Bottle
Size: 12oz
ABV: 7.50%
BA Score: 94
RB Score: 99

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Written by Paige Deckert

Paige is a fifth year graduate student at Penn State; she received her craft beer education while bartending during undergrad at the University of Illinois. Over several months, Rogue’s Dead Guy served as her gateway beer, because it was $2/pint on Thursdays, and thus offered the highest ABV/$. This eventually turned into enjoyment, and everything is history from there. Her first legal beer was Robert the Bruce on cask at the Blind Pig in Champaign, followed by the Duchess de Bourgogne. Paige has visited over 15 breweries, including Great Divide, Bells, Jolly Pumpkin, Three Floyds and Dogfish Head, with plans to add more in 2012 via trips to San Diego, Phoenix, and Austin. Paige became friends with Russ (and subsequently Garrett) when they became friends on untappd. She clearly remembers seeing a check-in of his and thinking, “Who is this clown checking into Miller Light at the Shandygaff?” Soon thereafter he introduced himself at a Zeno’s beerfest, and they bonded over their beer geekery (sans adjuct lagers). Find Paige Deckert on Google Plus

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