It's #FloridaBeerFriday. Every Friday, we take a look at a beer brewed in the Sunshine State, giving analysis to the burgeoning craft-beer movement of Florida.
Now, is it a collaboration when the beers are brewed on the same premises? Sure it is! It's a meeting of the minds where two separate trains of brewing thought collide to come up with something more than the sum of its parts.
"Kyle is a huge craft beer enthusiast and has brewed with Boulder Beer Company, Stone Brewing and now CCB," read a posting on Cigar City's social media in August. The musician has in the past hosted and been involved in craft beer events in Colorado, and is very much an enthusiast himself. Which is great, because craft drinkers know what can make a good beer.
Happening Now Session IPA is a low alcohol IPA at 4.5% ABV, brewed with "copious amounts of experimental hops" selected by the brewery's brewmaster Wayne Wambles. 'Experimental hops' are just a fancy term (is it even fancy?) for new varietals of hops that are being tested out in the market. They usually come around with names like #388 or #342 before finally, if they work out, getting names like Nelson Sauvin and Delta. So beers featuring these types of hops are a good way to check out the fringes of flavor in the brewing world.
After pouring and enticing the glass (it takes a bit to extrude these aromas), there is a slight knock on the door of some tangerine aromas and perhaps a little bit of mango on the nose. The beer looks pale and light, and visually approachable. It's true that there are very few beers that don't look like they should, but it's a possibility. There is a fair amount of body to this beer, which belies the low alcohol by volume. It reminds me of almost an American-style English bitter, but with a lower amount of malt character. It's super drinkable and has enough late stage bittering to keep things interesting.
Overall, and I haven't enjoyed the session IPA category so far, this is a solid entry in the category that somehow keeps the hop flavor elevated on a tiny amount of malt backbone. However, for almost $8 a four pack, it joins in with other session IPAs in the realm of a higher price point. I'd honestly rather spend two dollars more and grab a sixer of Jai Alai. With that said, if you haven't tried the Happening Now yet, pick it up at least once, as Cigar City's brews with experimental hops have and hopefully will continue to excite the palate. And that's worth (almost) any price.
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Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.