Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 44 (9/6/2011) Newcastle Winter IPA by The Caledonian Brewery Company

Disclosure: This beer was provided to me to sample and review by a public relation representing the Newcastle brands.

It looks like I've finally made it big time I kid, I kid. In all seriousness, though, I was ecstatic when a PR firm representing the Newcastle brand of beer reached out to me to sample and review both their Werewolf brown ale and a yet to be released Winter IPA. As a beer drinker I cut my teeth on Newcastle Nut Brown ale. For the longest time, before I moved onto more "challenging" beers, it was the only beer I would order. Since I've moved on, I haven't tried it once. With the line expanding into different varieties and someone offering me free beer to drink, what other reason would I need to come back to the beers that put me where I am today?

This Winter IPA pours a transparent light amber with a pretty good sized eggshell head. The smell is primarily caramel malt with a bit of English-style hops and a slight spiciness. It smells like a lighter, less "offensive" version of Great Lakes' Commodore Perry.

The taste is much the same: caramel sweetness with a faint nuttiness and the lightest hop bite. This is most definitely an English IPA; the maltiness and light, spicy hops would throw anyone for a loop who is expecting a big West Coast IPA. I would hope no one would be expecting that from a Newcastle brand, though. The taste manages to fit in the style's characteristic, but keeps them light enough that macro drinkers could probably get a pint down without puckering or spitting it out. The body is medium-light and the carbonation is just about medium.

So what is the verdict? Honestly, I expected this to be terrible and was actually a little surprise. They gave a solid try at an English IPA and though it falls a bit short by trying to hit the mass market appeal, it's not terrible by any means. I'm not the primary market for this beer. I realize that. I think the best indicator of this beer is that my father in law, a fledgling craft beer (Goose Island 312, etc) drinker enjoyed this a bit more than I did. I think that is the market they're going for. Despite this, it still had enough flavor to keep my attention until it was finished. I probably wouldn't seek this out again for myself, but I wouldn't feel terrible buying it for non-craft beer drinking friends or family. I give Newcastle Winter IPA by The Caledonian Brewery Company a C+.

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