Beer Review 0431: Green Man IPA

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Green Man Brewery is located in Asheville, North Carolina. Founded in 1997 as a brewpub, things changed in 2010 when new ownership took over. The brewpub was closed and Green Man began to focus on production brewing, with the original brewer John Stuart at the helm. This shift in focus allowed Green Man to begin distributing bottled beer at the beginning of the year (previously, all you could find were growlers in my area).

What exactly is a green man? It’s a sculpture, drawing, or other representation of a face made from leaves. It’s used as a decorative element in many cultures; the brewery decided to put its green man on every bottle crown, and it’s a very nice looking package.

Green Man’s IPA is their flagship offering, and is brewed in the style of a traditional English IPA, which is meant to be balanced. Coming in at 6.2% ABV (alcohol by volume), the beer is hopped late in the kettle to create a floral hop aroma. The IBUs (International Bitterness Units) call in at 63.

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The pour produced a small, soapy head that had staying power. The beer was copper colored when held out of light, in light, it became more amber with golden highlights. The body was clear, with no particles or sediment, and lacing was fair, leaving behind a couple of thick, soapy sheets.

The aromatics do present a balanced picture with grapefruit and lemon hops leading the way, followed by a nice backing of bready caramel and toasted notes. Dig deeper and you find the hops are fairly floral, have a touch of pine to them, and as it warms, get a touch catty. I’d say the ratio of hops to malts here is pretty much dead even. You might would have a hard time identifying this as an IPA just by smell alone.

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On the taste, we’ve got extreme floral and grapefruit hops up front, but those fade and lead into more of a toasty bread/caramel middle. Playing out in other layers of the palate are some orange peel and lemon; but when the finish comes on, this IPA definitely gets out of balance — the final flavors are moderately to heavily bitter, and it has a strange medicinal/salty note on the very tail end that lingers and overpowers all the malty nuances. Green Man IPA is medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy, drying mouthfeel.

Everything was going well until the finish, and I thought the beer really came apart with the bitterness. To my palate, some IPAs can get so bitter that they have a salt-like taste; and while this is only 63 IBUs, perhaps the interplay of the hops and malts makes it seem much more bitter than it is. After one of these, I’m ready to move on.

Green Man IPA, 81 points. Price: $1.49 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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