Ratsherrn Westküsten IPA

It seems like the year 2014 passed by in a blink of an eye and leaves us with memories of an eventful year in the craft beer world. There were ups and downs, brewery openings and many excellent beers, we saw big victories for small craft breweries and small ones for the big. But when I look back it’s almost dizzying when I think about making a list with all the successful brews I’ve tried. I hope that 2015 will be just as exciting and flavorful …

In this spirit I’ll continue with the first beer review of 2015:

IMG_8064During these freezing temperatures everyone is dreaming of the sun, the beach and the ocean. Ratsherrn’s Westküsten India Pale Ale, a brewery from Hamburg, gives at least the impression of Spring or Summer.

It pours clear and bright golden topped with a finger wide, fine-pored fluffy head. Aromas of citrus, grapefruit and passion fruit rise up into my nose, followed by decent hay and herbal (rosemary?) flavors.
The citrus aromas repeat in the first sip and quickly turn into a fruity-floral bitterness. Again, I taste a hint of sweet herbs.
It has soft carbonation, is gentle on the tongue and has a little to medium body.
The finish is short-lived, with a malty, fruity sweetness and a touch of pink grapefruit.

The Westküsten India Pale Ale is a nice brew but a little too sweet and not what I expect from a typical West Coast IPA. Otherwise, tasty local [despite its 6.2%] and as a beginners-IPA



Beer Review #8: Backbone Splitter by Hanscraft & Co.

What’s a West Coast IPA? What is the difference to the “normal” American IPA? And is there an East Coast IPA?

In the past twenty-five years the craft beer scene in the US has exploded. Especially microbreweries on both coasts – the East and the West – produce more than half of the craft beers in the US. It’s no wonder that a certain rivalry has developed.

East Coast and West Coast breweries have very different approaches to their brewing, but both IPA-styles have their own soul and their own recognition.

Although and East Coast IPA has exactly the bitterness an IPA should have, it tends to have more citrus and fruit notes in the taste. In general, it is a lighter, juicier and less aggressive IPA – so to speak, a good “starter-IPA” for IPA newcomers.

West Coast IPAs also have the flavors of citrus and sweet fruits but they tend to be more hoppy, bitter, earthy and piney. They are dry and slightly more aggressive than the typical American IPA.

A good example for the West Coast IPA is the IMG_6900Backbone Splitter by Hanscraft & Co. brewed with Horizon, a bitter hop, and Amarillo, Simcoe and Centennial which are aroma hops.

Upon opening the bottle I smell a bouquet of citrus fruits. It pours clear with an amber color and nice white foamy head.

The citrus aroma is now a more intense grapefruit and lemon aroma mixed with peach, mango or papaya – it definitely has this unique “creamy-fruity” aroma of exotic fruits!

The first sip is light and with a good balance of sweet malt and bitter fruity hops. The bitterness from the fresh hops increases with every sip and is filled with orange, peach aromas, spicy herbs and resin notes with a pleasant dry, bitter finish.

I would have liked to have a little less dry but fruitier finish. However it is a good aromatic West Coast IPA to enjoy, with a more dangerous name than it actually is!

Beer Review #4: Anchor IPA

There are several theories and myths as to how and when exactly India Pale Ales (IPAs) originated. A well-known story is as follows:IMG_6501

It is said that IPAs developed in the 17th century out of necessity as the British Empire settled with the help of the British East India Company in India and began to set up their trading stations on the west coast of India. The popular beers this time were no match for the long voyage and were bland and stale in India. A man named George Hodgson solved the problem of rotten beer by raising the amount of hops and alcohol and so the beer was less susceptible to bacteria! The recipe with the higher hop content led to the India Pale Ale (IPA) as we know it today.

Also, two centuries ago, Britain dispatched mid-19th during the gold rush in the United States, their IPAs to their colonies to California. The men came to “see the elephant”. “Seeing the elephant” is a phrase that is attributed to this period and describes the pursuit of happiness and adventure, by the Exciting and exotic.

In 1975 Anchor Brewing Co. brewed with their Liberty Ale and it became the first “modern American IPA” which the Anchor IPA is based on. It was brewed with barley malt and three hop varieties and dry-hopped with six different aroma hops which give it a great flavor and character.

Already when pouring, you can sense its full body. The IPA has a nice clear dark copper color and a creamy, light beige foam head which stays long and leaves nice lacing.

The flavor is deliciously fruity, floral and hoppy. I smell citrus, lemon grass and pine.

The first sip is sweet, medium to strong bitter and slightly sour. It has a medium-heavy body, a subtle creamy texture and a pleasant CO2 content. The IPA tastes like a fruit cocktail of passion fruit, lemon, lime and lemongrass and is supported by a caramel malt flavor. The finish is rather bitter and slightly lemony-fruity.


With its 6.5% ABV Anchor IPA is very drinkable and goes well with the still warm late summer temperatures. As a Hophead (hop lover) and avid IPA drinker the Anchor IPA reflects exactly what I expected: An aromatic, interesting and exotic IPA with lots of character!

Beer Review #3: BrewDog IPA is Dead

BrewDog IPA is Dead

Since 2011 BrewDog has released their IPA is Dead 4-packs once a year. Each of the four beers has the same base recipe, but was dryhopped with a different hop variety. In this year’s edition they chose Comet, EXP 366, Amarillo and Kohatu hops.

Over the past few days I tasted and compared the four. All four IPAs are based on a milder version of BrewDogs Hardcore IPA, brewed with Maris Otter, Crystal and Cara-malt.

The EXP 366 was first on my list. EXP 366 is a new, yet unnamed American hop variety. The IPA is amber with an eggshell-colored large-pore foam head that quickly falls apart and little carbonation. The aroma is malty with pine, orange peel and lemon notes. The taste resembles sweet bread and also has a resinous hoppy pine flavor. The finish is reminiscent of bitter grapefruit, but its taste fades quickly.

Next up Comet. Like the EPX 366, this one also has a clear amber color but with a narrow white head and leaves nice lacing on glass. Its bouquet is a blend of citrus, grapefruit and pine. The taste is malty-sweet with mango and also lemon and grapefruit flavors and a hint of resin. For me, the bitterness is a rather mediocre medium bitterness with lots of resin.

Next, I decided on Kohatu. Again, this is a newer hop variety from New Zealand and unknown/”un-tested” to me! Like the first two IPAs it is amber in color. It is clear with a full soft white crown. I first notice mango and lime in the aroma followed by hints of pineapple.

The taste is very interesting. First, bitter-sweet with a hot alcohol sharpness which fades fast and is overpowered by pineapple and herbal pine aromas. After a few seconds I taste sweet sage – a finish after the finish! Wow!

For my final beer, I have set aside the Amarillo – one of my favorite hops, which has a very balanced, fruity aroma. It also has a nice amber color and is the clearest of all four. When pouring a narrow eggshell colored head builds which dissolves quickly and leaves little lacing. The nose is almost tropical: passion fruit and orange peel, very fresh, slightly grassy. The aroma is repeated in the first sip and reminds me of a mango-passion fruit and banana smoothie with a slightly bitter-sweet finish.


The hop flavors are good in all four IPA’s, but I would have liked to see a slightly fuller body in all of them. My favorite is the Kohatu because it surprised me and the aroma-flavor combination was the most interesting.

I definitely recommend the 4-pack. It is interesting for those who love hops and everybody who wants to learn more about the individual hop varieties and their characteristics.