Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bristol Brewing Compass IPA review

Bristol Brewing Compass IPAGet your mouth ready for a hop party. The mix of Chinook, Columbus and Cascade hops are going to dance in your mouth. This kind of experience awaits in your next bottle of Bristol Brewing's Compass IPA. But beware, something may lurk at the bottom of your bottle that you'll want to pour carefully to avoid.

This was but one of 6 different beers I found in a mixed 12-pack from Bristol Brewing Company of Colorado Springs, CO. If you ever want to try a wide variety of beer, then look for a mixed pack like this one. I was in the mood for something hoppy tonight so an IPA seemed to be just what the Hop Doctor ordered.

Bristol Brewing puts this beer out year round as part of their regular offerings. It's got 55 IBUs, a respectible 6.5% ABV, and a mix of Chinook, Columbus, and Cascade hops blended with the 2-Row & Crystal malts. This beer seemed to have been bottle fermenting in the 12oz sample as I saw some sediment empty into my glass.

Appearance: Bristol's Compass IPA had a big frothy near-white head build in my glass. There was also a lot of clingy white lacing along the side of the glass. But wait, there was A LOT of sediment too in this beer, looked like yeast or possible hop pieces. Almost looked filthy - so be careful when you pour. I had failed to look at the bottom of the bottle before I poured, so I got everything in my glass. Compass IPA had a beautiful copper orange color. I had stored this beer unprotected in my cold garage where temperatures got down into the mid-30s. It may have contributed to settling out more material from the beer.

Beware the sediment in this beerAroma: Compass IPA had a big, and I mean BIG, hop aroma with elements of citrus, pine and spice. This smelled exactly what a big hoppy IPA should smell like. A touch of sweet caramel malt beneath this hop monster nose. At least the sediment hadn't affected the aroma.

Taste: Whoa. There was a massive amount of bitter taste up front that lasted all through the sip start to finish, and then some. Compass IPA had a creamy texture. The hop taste could almost be described as chewy. The beer had a medium to high body. Once this beer warmed up a bit I could taste even more of the caramel malt base which was very pleasant. Drank cold, the bitterness lasted well after the sip was gone, but that eased a bit as the sampling continued. This style of beer is definitely a palate killer, so I suggest having some sharp food with it to counteract the hops. Hop heads will love this bitterness bomb. Wonderful citrus, pine and strong bitterness.

Overall: I've seen sediment like this in other IPA's like Green Flash West Coast IPA. While the sediment didn't affect the taste, it did turn me off a bit visually. I like my IPAs to be predominantly clear, not looking like they didn't remove the hop pellets. But this one went a bit beyond that with dark chunks that layered the bottom of the glass. Didn't look tasty, but the taste on top was fairly well balanced after it warmed a bit with nice balance of malt. I would probably have no problem recommending this beer if not for the lack of filtration. I felt like I wanted to run this beer through a coffee filter to get all the stuff out.

I ended up only drinking about 3/4ths of this beer as I didn't want to get a mouthful of that dark sediment that settled to the bottom of the glass. I think that I'd love to try this on draft and avoid such an issue in the future.

Update: I checked another bottle of the same beer in my 12-pack and saw sediment at the bottle of that bottle as well. Inspecting others in the mixed 12-pack showed some similar sediment. So be very careful when you pour and leave an ounce or so of beer at the bottom to avoid getting sediment in your beer. I was able to do a very slow pour and left the majority of the sediment in the bottle and has a fairly clear second helping. I thoroughly enjoyed that beer.

Disclosure: I bought this bottle as part of a mixed 12-pack that was on sale at my local store. The beer was being sold to the public at a great sale price - an entire mixed 12-pack for $11.99, I knew the beer was fairly fresh as the 12-pack also included a winter seasonal.

Related articles:
- Bristol Brewing Mass Transit Ale review.
- Bristol Brewing Red Rocket Pale Ale review.
- Bristol Brewing Laughing Lab review.
- Bristol Brewing XXX Warlock review.

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