Santa Fe Brewing Co. Happy Camper IPA: Creamier than the usual IPA, Santa Fe Brewing Co.‘s Happy Camper IPA is malty and piney, with a nice cloudy orange color and fluffy white head. Probably not worth seeking out if it is not readily available to you, as it is nothing spectacular, but it is a decent beer, 6/10.
Maui Brewing Big Swell IPA: This has a crisper mouthfeel than the Happy Camper IPA, which I attribute to the higher carbonation level, and is not nearly as malty. The hops are on the tropical fruit and grapefruit end of the spectrum, with a hint of lemon as well. Another IPA that is good and drinkable, but is well short of spectacular, 6/10.
Thirsty Planet Buckethead IPA: I tried this at the Katy Road Icehouse (“KRI“) in Dallas. Pluses for KRI: It is located on a popular bike path that I ride on occasion; It is an open space with a huge outdoor seating area, and has those giant misting fans to combat the Texas heat; It has an enormous selection of Texas beers; And it is usually packed with tons of attractive women.
Minuses for KRI: The Bike Path location means lots of sweaty people in lycra milling about; As a Texas summer day is the functional equivalent of the Fires of Hell, misting fans, no matter how large, are shoveling shit against the tide as far as stemming the heat; The attractive women, if not quite openly mocking me, are at a minimum actively shunning me; And worst of all, the beer glasses are stored in a deep freeze that I am convinced reaches Absolute Zero, thereby destroying all flavor in any beer served in them. The glasses are so cold that there are chunks of ice in the beer served in them. This is a pet peeve of mine. Crappy beer is only good for lowering your core temperature and getting loaded and therefore needs to be served in frosty mugs. Good beer should be served in room temperature glasses, which help to bring out the bouquet and the flavor of the beer. If KRI could transfer the mug chilling technology to the misting fans, they would be on to a winning combination, but as it stands, oppressive heat and beer stripped of its flavor is not a winning combination.
I had heard good things about Austin’s Thirsty Planet Brewing, so I ordered the Buckethead IPA when I saw it on the menu. Our waitress, who was a sweet young girl with pale green eyes, did not understand my consternation over the mini-icebergs floating in my beer, and I was afraid she might cry if I sent it back, so I just let the Buckethead warm up a bit before I drank it. I found it to have a nice earthy hops flavor with some bready malts. Unfortunately, any aroma was killed by the intensely cold temperature at which beer was served and the freezer funk on the glass that rose as the glass warmed, however slightly. I think this is a pretty good beer, but I am not entirely certain, so I am not giving it a grade.
Cigar City Papaya IPA: Pouring a rich golden amber, with intense lacing and frothy head, the Cigar City Papaya IPA is smooth and creamy, with just a hint of papaya sweetness to it. The hops are grapefruit citrus and orange peel, and the malts add a nice caramel touch. This was an excellent beer, 7.5/10.