Great Islands Craft Brewery’s Red IPA

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Filipino homebrewer Allan Baldis Agala is regarded by many as the best in town, having received a brewing degree from the United States. The man behind Great Islands Craft Brewery gave me a bottle of his aged Imperial Red IPA to review. I have to beg his pardon, though, as I had a bit of a cold when I reviewed this, dulling my olfactory sense a bit. I was to excited that I only remembered when I took my first whiff after pouring. Luckily, as with any good IPA, all the flavors were still able to come through.

This was first tried fresh — perhaps too fresh, as bottle conditioning was not yet fully complete when we and former president Estrada tried it. Thus, the bottle of the time was still flat and undercarbonated. As can be easily gleaned from the photo though, carbonation is no longer a problem. It pours a deep reddish brown with a thick cappuccino head that refuses to let up, leaving strong lacing. Aroma (despite, or because of my stuffy nose) was mostly of a toasty bark and pine, a bit rough, in the way that a forest is rough. I’ve had similar rough, toasted notes with his other beers, particularly his stouts. It was interesting to see the flavors come out again, this time mixed with the more verdant aromas from traditional IPA hops. I guess this is what should be expected with a Red IPA, which I’d never tried before. It did not have the citrus fruit bouquet of regular IPAs, or the coffee and chocolate of Black IPAs. Very, very interesting.

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Some of residual yeast added a bit of funkiness at the front, with a sharp hop bite at the end. Nothing too overpowering, but enough to really define this beer as an IPA. The body was well-carbonated and relatively light compared to the bitterness that would seem to stick to the palate for a few moments. In all, this was another excellent output. The additional aging gave the beer a more robust character in terms of carbonation and head, as well as much more balance. This was an enjoyable beer, as is usually the case with Baldis.

Craft beer and home brewing in the Philippines is really taking off, as evidenced by even more new faces at the monthly homebrewers’ meeting, now at the Global Beer Exchange bottle shop. More on that, soon.

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