I have to admit a bit of skepticism and reluctance on my part for this one. Red Hook introduced an IPA (India Pale Ale) a few years ago that was, well, lackluster. I enjoy strong IPAs with sharp tastes, but the first release of their IPA was a little on the flat side, and lacked that strong bite that lots of extra hops gives.

Most of the IPA’s I currently enjoy are really quite harsh on the tongue. The extra hops hit you with a surge and tingle of strong taste, which is followed by a punch of an aftertaste. The ad copy for Red Hook’s new “Longhammer” IPA said that it “embraces the IPA tradition of a strong hop profile, while remaining easy to drink with smooth flavors and a clean finish.” Again, I was skeptical. How can something so strongly flavored really have a smooth (not harsh) taste?

When I tasted the Longhammer IPA, I immediately noticed a distinct difference from it and all of the other IPAs that I love. This beer stings like a bee with very strong hop smell and taste, but then floats like a butterfly, dissolving smoothly instead of stinging the tongue and throat. I have to give it my respect, I was impressed. When I learned that they also dry-hopped it, I was even more awed by its smoothness. Finally, a strong, yet drinkable IPA! It has a 6.51% Alcohol by volume, too, which is probably due to the dry-hopping. It made me forget the shallow IPA attempt of the past, and I would recommend this beer highly to anyone who wants to try a good IPA.

For more info, read “What is an IPA?