Beer Review 0391: Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA

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Dark Horse Brewing Company (Marshall, Michigan) opened in 1997 as a restaurant owned by Bill Morse. Bill’s son, Aaron, suggested after opening that they should redesign the restaurant into a brewpub — after having success, Aaron turned the brewpub license into a microbrewery license just a year later.

Information about the history of Dark Horse is a little hard to find on the Internet; it appears to me that all their beers are unfiltered. They have a brewery and attached taproom, which houses over 3,200 mugs of patrons who have joined their “mug club,” which entitles members to a special mug and larger pour of beer when visiting the establishment. Earlier this year, the website RateBeer ranked Dark Horse 29th on the Best Brewers in the World list.

Crooked Tree IPA is inspired by west coast India Pale Ales, being heavily dry-hopped with a combination of Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial. Available year-round, the beer is 6.5% ABV (alcohol by volume).

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Crooked Tree poured an average size, soapy, bright white head that had quickly faded into just a small cover. The beer was a nice burnt orange in color, along with a very cloudy body that made the liquid opaque. Although clouded, there were no particles or sediment, and lacing was beautiful, leaving behind lots of sticky suds.

On the nose, this seemed pretty balanced; some nice grapefruit and pine hops up front, mixed with a bready, cracker-like malt backing. There were notes of lemon peel and flowers, but overall, the aroma was subdued and you had to really put your nose in the glass to pick up on everything.

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Initial flavors of grapefruit and pine come out of the gate first, followed by a touch of dark, bready malt that almost seemed like rye — it even had a little spiciness — which led to a finish that starts floral but finishes moderately bitter with a second chorus of grapefruit and pine. The tail end is dry and becomes a bit soapy, but it’s still crisp and refreshing. Medium-bodied, the mouthfeel is thin and foamy.

Crooked Tree is a solid, no-frills IPA that is easy drinking and would make an excellent addition to a lineup of regulars. Nothing spectacular here, but if you like an IPA with great pine and grapefruit flavors without the need for a high ABV monster, this is a good choice.

Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA, 88 points. Price: $26.99 US as part of the Dark Horse IPA Variety pack, which contains three bottles of this beer.

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