Beer Review 0012: Highland Kashmir IPA

Kashmir India Pale Ale is produced here in my home state of North Carolina, by Highland Brewing Company in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The brewery isn’t very old and started of modest means in 1994, producing only 6,500 barrels per year. After farming out some production to another state in 1998, today Highland brews all its beer locally back in Asheville.

Highland beers are only distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Information about the brewery is limited as their website isn’t terribly detailed and the packaging isn’t informative, either. Kashmir IPA, which I partook in a bottle of on January 29, is described as a “brilliant pale ale with an aggressive hop character balanced with a smooth finish.” There is a warning on the bottle that this is a bold beer that is best consumed “with a stiff upper lip.”

With that cautionary statement, I revved up the bitter buds on my tongue. This IPA comes in at 60 on the International Bitterness Unit scale, which isn’t too high of a number.

The pour produced a small head that quickly faded to just a thin layer. The color was very pleasing to the eye, taking on the appearance of something you’d love to sip on in the summer with a bright golden yellow tint. The body was hazy but transparent, with no particles or sediment. The lacing was initially good, leaving a thick ring of foam, but it faded as the drink disappeared. Kashmir is a nice looking beer not typical of the style.

The bottle says “just a wee bit different,” and the aromatics follow that trademarked statement. My nose wasn’t greeted with the typical IPA hop blast; instead, I found the dominant aroma to be that of a doughy yeast, which mixed well with a hint of malt that fell in the bready/biscuit category. The hops were there but only faintly, in the form of flowers that bordered on herbal and pine tree. I also detected a note of butter and found the aroma to be acidic.

On the palate, Kashmir emits a metallic flavor initially, which transitions into a hop blast of citrus, specifically grapefruit. The malt is there and quickly gone with a long, long finish of bitter grapefruit. I found the mouthfeel to be refreshing if somewhat dry, but the flavors were fairly one dimensional and surprising considering the hops were hidden on the backside of the aromatics.

This is definitely a different type of IPA, which is a good thing, but I thought it missed the mark in terms of overall drinkability. I couldn’t see myself having more than one of these in an evening because it’s just not complex enough to hold my attention for longer than twelve ounces.

New beer drinkers who haven’t had much experience with India Pale Ale would probably not have a good experience with this one as the grapefruit finish is bitter enough to where if you don’t even remotely like the fruit, you’re going to hate this drink. There are balance problems here, even though the bottle advertises “aggressive hops balanced with a smooth finish.”

I rated Kashmir IPA 12 points in both appearance and aromatics, 28 points in flavor and 27 points in the overall drinkability category.

Highland Kashmir IPA, 79 points. Price: $8.99 US for six pack.

Although not terribly informational, the packaging for all Highland beers does feature a picture of several men in suits using urinals. One guy stands in front of his urinal in a kilt, above the trademark “Just a wee bit different.”


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