Living in the Pacific Northwest is an IPA-lover’s dream, as there are so many great brews to choose from. It’s no surprise either, given that 97.8% of all hops grown in the United States are grown in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho – with Washington alone providing 74% of domestic hops production. Proximity to arguably the most important product of an IPA has given rise to a host of breweries competing to make the best IPA, but unlike many, this week’s Common Room Beer of the Week, Trickster IPA from Black Raven Brewing Co., has actually taken home some hardware, winning the North American Brewers Association (NABA) Silver Medal in the Strong Pale Ale category in 2009.
Trickster IPA certainly lives up to its name, as when poured in a glass you could be forgiven for mistaking it for an amber ale. However, though Trickster IPA does include three different types of malt, the five types of hops it contains balance the flavor well, and make this unmistakably an IPA on the palate – and a great one at that. Trickster IPA has a pleasant nose, with hints of citrus, hops, and pine, and that nose offers a enticing preview to the beer itself, whose initial hop-fueled bitterness fades into a pleasant, delicious mesh of hops, malt, and citrus. The finish is smooth, highlighted by a citrus taste that lingers on the tongue.
Black Raven Brewing Co. is based in the Seattle area, with two breweries, one in Woodinville and one in Redmond. The brewery opened in 2009 and is rapidly growing, currently boasting a distribution network that includes Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii. Black Raven lists an impressive 35 beers in its online “Beerfolio”, and they must be doing something right as 14 different beers have taken home awards. In addition to their year-round brews, the Black Raven team is always experimenting with different flavor combinations, tweaking the aging process by incorporating different types of wooden barrels, and continuing to refine the brewing process to always strive for better quality and taste in their beer. So, the next time you find yourself in Woodinville or Redmond, especially on the first Wednesday of the month when they tap a special cask ale, do yourself a favor and stop in for a glass of Trickster IPA or another one of Black Raven Brewing Co.’s great-tasting beers.