Something strange happened recently. A new beer was released by Surly and it took me about 11 days to get a taste of it. The big party was at a 4 on the Floor concert at First Avenue, which I could not attend, on April 6. Furthermore, there are, oddly enough, no kegs being released to bars, only cans to liquor stores. And I did not get out to the store at all last week. Finally, picked up some Wednesday night, took down a couple pint cans, and penned this novella:
Surly Over-Rated! West Coast IPA. 7.3% ABV.
Clear, golden colored, beautiful white, lasting head. Looks the very picture of a class West Coast IPA. All systems go, ready or not.
Aroma: ahhhhhhh….yep, it's hitting all the right notes. Sticky, prickly pine, plenty of citric notes, blasts of tropical fruit, lemon and pineapple hit the forest floor. Put the grapefruit in mango and mix it all up. Perfectly pleasing.
Taste of it: Boom, boom. It's got it all, bangs the right spots, strikes the right notes. Not too much malt body to interfere with the hop delivery. Body is lean and light, dropping hop delights with each new sip. In each way possible, this meets the mark of the West Coast IPA. Which makes me wonder…but, first, let's read that can…
What's with the HYPE? It's been said; "It's easier to brew an extremely hoppy beer than an extremely balanced beer." And you know us, we are always looking for the easy way out, so we jumped on the West Coast IPA Bandwagon and brewed this dry and hoppy ale. "Surly's a little bit of a one-trick pony, they just brew gimmick beers," and maybe we are OVER-RATED, but at the end of the day, it's just a beer, if you like it, great, so do we. If you only liked us when we were small, then leave this one of the shelf. Let one of the fanboys grab it."
I'm going to pick this apart for a bit. From day one, Surly had always been trying to jump on the "West Coast IPA bandwagon", but they flubbed it with that failure, Furious. Next thing: Is the part in quotes directly from some review online, and does that person feel silly, or superior? Next: I hate the phrase "at the end of the day". Political talking heads on the 24-hour news networks use it constantly, over and over, and it pisses me off to see it on a Surly label. Finally, …oh, the fanboys. How much anti-Surly resentment did they turn around and stuff into that small bit of copy? Why is there still anti-Surly resentment? Haven't those people dried up and blown away already?
So what am I wondering…ah, this is damnably delicious. And what if Surly had debuted with Under-blown, or…Extra-plated..what was it? Yeah, over-rated. It's nearly a note-perfect rendition of the much beloved West Coast IPA, San Diego style. Surly originally was meant to be a provider for our region, our marketplace, of this type of brew, the type not found in our homeland. But their "over-hopped", "over-hyped" Furious seemed to really fit an unscratched itch, a never-known niche. Detractors of Furious and it's over-done hopping forget the major amount of malts involved. Maybe that's what helped it over the hump, and let this community of beer drinkers take that overly hoppy wonder to our collective bosom? If they'd led with something like this, a clear clone of the West Coast style of IPA, so plump with the citrus and piney qualities, instead of something with a bigger malt component like Furious, would it have been the same? Would it have eventually met with popularity, or relative indifference, except for the rabid, hop-hungry species beers geekicus?
It is dry. It is hoppy. It's very bitter, and what's weird? It's about a dollar a 4-pack less than Furious. Because they could save money on the malt. Man, that must be how those over-hopped, over-hyped beers work. That's how they getcha man, that's how they do it.
Already some wags on the net are saying "it's, dare I say it, better than Furious." "Better than"? More to the taste of your hop-greedy palate, perhaps. Also, perhaps, these people are the ones I spoke of earlier, the ones Surly wasn't ready to cater to seven years ago, and have merely been biding their time pretending to enjoy Furious until Surly would produce something leaner, hoppier, drier, …here's what I'll say: while I appreciate this, respect it, like it, nay, love it…it only proves to underscore what a successful creation Furious truly is. I'll also say this: …no forget it, I've said it all already. Good one, but will not replace Furious for me. I'm glad they finally did it, though, and wish it would stick around. Top notch effort, lads. I enjoy over-rating your beers, but, you knew that, fanboy that I am.
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