Beer Review 0396: Epic Brainless Belgian-Style IPA

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Epic Brewing Company hails out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and they primarily focus on high alcohol content beer. Operations started in 2008, when Utah modified its state laws and higher ABV (alcohol by volume) beers could be produced — the founders are David Cole and Peter Erickson, both of whom shared a longtime dream of opening a microbrewery.

The company divides its offerings into three different series: Classic, Elevated, and Exponential. As you might expect, the beers get more extreme with each jump of series; Brainless IPA is part of the Exponential Series, but is one of Epic’s lower ABV beers.

Beers in the Exponential Series see release in batches — each batch is brewed a bit different, whether it be ingredients or different aging barrels, or anything, really. New for 2013, Brainless IPA is a Belgian-style India Pale Ale. The bottle I’m reviewing comes from batch #4 (as of this writing, there are only six batches), which was brewed on January 24 and bottled on February 18. This batch of Brainless was brewed with Chinook and Centennial hops in the boil, whole leaf Centennial hops in the hop back, and dry-hopped with Citra. The ABV is 6.3%.

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Pouring kicked up a large, frothy and dense head that lasted. The beer was golden in color, with a significantly clouded body, but no particles or sediment were present. Lacing was excellent, starting just as soon as the head began to diminish; it continued in solid thin sheets all the way down the glass.

You’d never be able to tell there was anything Belgian about this brew by the nose — lots of grapefruit, grassy, and citrus hops dominate the aroma. While grapefruit tends to be the star, there’s a nice little touch of lemon peel and some oranges. The malt is quite light, giving off scents of straw and grain, with a light caramel providing a bit of depth. As Brainless warmed, I noted it got quite catty, which was mildly distracting.

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The flavors pretty much followed the nose note-for-note; initially, the grapefruit starts out light but grows when swished in the mouth. There’s also a significant grassy presence and some pine needles. There wasn’t much malt to be had but that’s not to say this beer is out of balance, because it isn’t… if anything, there’s some grain, and the Belgian yeast adds some body, but not any taste. Brainless finishes lightly bitter with plenty of grapefruit, some orange peel, and dry grass. Medium-bodied, this had a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

I’m not quite sure what is Belgian about this brew. The Belgian yeast that is supposed to be ‘fruity’ didn’t come out, at least to my palate — not a bad thing, considering the hops used provide a nice group of flavors that are enjoyable and very drinkable. A solid American IPA with an excellent use of bitterness.

Epic Brainless Belgian-Style IPA, 88 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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