There are some fall seasonal beers that are only out for a seemingly limited time. It is not that there aren’t a lot of barrels of these beers brewed. It is that these beers are made so well, that the masses consume them at a rate on par with adolescent boys at an AXE body spray giveaway. Between Oktoberfests, pumpkin beers and harvest ales that so many breweries are putting out, it is easy to look past the special variety of Fresh Hop IPAs that are out there.
Northbound brews their version of this beer with three hop varieties: Cascade, Columbus and Centennial hops to give it a very clean and distinct hop flavor. They brewed 14 barrels of the Fresh Hop IPA this year. Northbound gets their hops for this beer from Gerhard Hops, a local hop farm in Pine City which also happens to be the largest MN hops producer. This beer comes in at 6.9% ABV with 80 IBUs.
The Fresh Hop IPA is medium amber in is very clean and clear. There is not a lot of head on this beer. The beer smells amazingly earthy and floral. At the time of the review, I was one of several people at our table enjoying this beer and we all agreed that the aroma is what makes this beer a great selection. I have had several other fresh hop beers and they are all very clean and aromatic. This is a great beer style for someone who is intimidated by the bitterness of IPAs because this beer is the definition of approachable. The 80 IBUs might also cause one to pause at ordering this beer, but fear not, the hops are not going to split your tongue in half.
The flavors in the Fresh Hop IPA are nicely balanced. One great thing about how Northbound brews this beer is that the drinker gets the appealing sensory elements of each hop they use in the beer and they all go well together. There are floral and citrus notes from the Cascade and Centennial, and the slight bitterness from the Columbus and Centennial. Because this is fresh-hopped, these flavors are all very much at the forefront of this beer. There is some light bitterness, but that showed up in the aftertaste. The mouth feel of this beer is unique because it is initially crisp, and then seems to smooth out.
This beer pairs very well with the smoked buffalo wings that I ordered. The logic behind that pairing is that the smoked wings highlight the flavor of the smoked meat because they are not swimming in sauce. The Fresh Hop IPA has clean hop flavors front and center and I wanted to see how it would hold up the the smoke and spice of the wings. I was very pleased with the combination. Northbound also had a very limited supply of Fresh Hop IPA infused with Tangelos, a hybrid of citrus fruit made of tangerine, mandarin orange and grapefruit. This was a very refreshing taste and combination. So, if you are lucky enough to find the Fresh Hop IPA with Tangelos on tap, order a pint because it won’t be around long! The Fresh Hop IPA is a great beer to enjoy on Northbound’s patio as Minnesotans soak up the sun and hold on tight to the last few nice days of fall.