Beer Review 0222: Craggie Yo LA Mango IPA

Do you think the brewers were listening to Yo La Tengo when the idea for this beer came about?

And yes, this is the first review of beer from a growler on this website. Score one on my point sheet for growler, finally! Craggie Brewing Company is a North Carolina brewery (Asheville, NC), but they don’t bottle their beers; however, they do distribute growlers around the state. I picked this one up recently, intrigued by the name and the fact that it is dry-hopped with fresh mangoes.

Craggie Brewing began with Bill Drew, the head brewmaster. He went to college overseas and developed an appreciation for English and Scottish beer styles. The beer bug went back with him here in the United States, and he interned at Highland Brewing Company (another Asheville brewery) cleaning kegs and labeling bottles. He worked his way up the ladder at Highland, becoming an assistant brewer; in 2003, he moved to Atlanta and began making beer for Dogwood Brewing Company.

Dogwood didn’t last long, so Drew returned to Highland, and decided to start his own brewery when Highland moved to a new facility.

The brewery was named Craggie because that name incorporated Western North Carolina culture; there was a trolly line called “Old Craggy Line” that existed in the area in the early 1900’s, and there was a Craggy Prison. The ‘y’ was replaced with ‘ie’ in the name to honor North Carolina’s Scottish and Irish heritage.

Pouring from the growler gave a large, frothy head that quickly diminished. The beer was a light amber color with golden highlights toward the bottom of the glass. Body was clear, free of particles and sediment, and the lacing was very sparse, leaving just a small bit of suds on the glass.

The aromatics were fairly disappointing; if you’re looking for a complex IPA, don’t inquire here. But what is here, which is mostly very pungent mango, is really nice. There’s a lot of general citrus hop, and some faint grain. Overall, Yo LA Mango is very fruity, with a ton of mango and just a hint of malt, but not much else.

On the taste, there’s mango up front, matched by a pleasant bitterness that slightly dries out the palate. This IPA has excellent balance, with a great bit of grain and touch of caramel, then more and more mango. The mouthfeel was thin and foamy, leading to a finish that presents even more mango and a hard touch of bitterness to match the sweet tropical fruit. As the final taste unwinds, I detected a punch of apricot.

Yo LA Mango is, well, all about the mango. I thought this was a nice beer with a very tasty finish, and the added mango flavors are unique and dance wonderfully with the hops that are in play. Overall, it lacks a little body, but this is a beer I’d grab again in a heartbeat, and feel good about knocking back a few of.

Craggie Yo LA Mango IPA, 84 points. Price: $12.99 for one 64 ounce growler pour.


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