Monday, May 9, 2011

Ithaca Beer Co CascaZilla

First off, a disclaimer: I don't own the fantastic image you see to your left.  I got it from the Ithaca Beer Company website, as I sadly didn't get a picture of my own bottle and glass of this brew.

I've already talked a bit about Ithaca Beer Co.  One neat thing I learned about them recently is that their brewery doubles as a local homebrewing supply - it's great that a commercial brewery is supporting the hobby, I really commend them for that.

Their Cascazilla beer is a bit of a double-entendre: it's a pun on the Cascadilla Gorge in Ithaca, and also a reflection of the plentiful amounts of Cascade hops lavished on the beer, making it a bit of a hop-monster.  Ithaca doesn't explicitly state the style of the beer, though it's got some elements of Red Ale and IPA.  I guess it could be considered a Specialty Beer - Red Ale with the addition of extra Cascade Hops.

Some sweet caramel malts are detectable under the hops in the aroma, but really it's the floral cascade hops which dominate. It's pleasant, to be sure, but readers will know by now my preference for malt over hop dominance. 

The appearance of the brew is a deep red, almost copper, colour, which pours with a decent head off-white head and is slightly cloudy (that could just be chill haze, though).  The carbonation level is respectable but moderate.

The bitterness of the hops hits you when you take the first sip - it's not unexpected, but it's hard to discern much of the malt underneath it all.  The lingering bitterness and an aftertaste of the Cascade hops is overpowering if you're not prepared for it.  Certainly one for the hop-lovers. 

When I first tried this beer, it was directly after I'd had a fruit beer (probably a bad idea, as my palate was ill-prepared for the hop-monster).  It wasn't totally to my taste, though it's technically a really well-made beer (reminded me a bit of CB's Caged Alpha Monkey, actually).  A few days later, my wife and I had made lentil soup to use up some of the produce in our fridge, and I was totally surprised to find that Cascazilla made a brilliant complement to it.  With the balance of the soup, the bitter aftertaste was no longer overpowering but pleasantly refreshing, and the flavours interacted in a way which totally altered my experience of the brew. 

I mentioned in my last post that I was planning to slightly revise my system.  I'm going to score this beer on four dimensions: appearance, aroma, taste and mouthfeel. 

Appearance: 4/5
Aroma: 3/5 (not sure what to make of the overpowering hops)
Taste: 3.5/5
Mouthfeel: 4.5/5

Mean score: 3.75 out of 5.

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