Beer Review 0432: American Brewing Breakaway IPA

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American Brewing Company are fairly new to brewing beer — founded in 2011 by Neil Fallon, a businessman who has had his own real estate business for twenty years. Mr. Fallon has no experience in the beer industry, but he sought out and found Skip Madsen, a brewing veteran, to be his brewmaster.

Located in Edmonds, Washington, Madsen brews four year-round offerings for American Brewing. He has a Bachelor of Science degree and started his craft in Fort Collins, Colorado, eventually moving on to Pike Brewing Company and Big Time Brewery. He’s created over 200 beers in his lifetime, and several of them have won awards of distinction.

Breakaway IPA is a Northwest style IPA, brewed to have lots of floral and citrus aromas. This beer registers 7.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) and a whopping 90 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

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Pouring delivered a small, creamy, and lasting head that was bright white atop a dark golden, nearly amber beer. This brew was hazy, and there was a bit of yeast dregs at the bottom of the bottle; when poured all in, the head became much creamier and had even more of a lasting quality. Despite the yeast, there were no particles or sediment in suspension; lacing was good, leaving behind lots of weepy, thin sheets.

The nose surprised me a bit, and not in a good way. There just isn’t much here — there’s some very sweet grapefruit and tropical notes, along with a blast of caramel malt, but even as the beer warmed, nothing really stuck out. It seems to be a balanced brew that leans more toward the sweet end of IPAs.

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Tasting, and this reminded me a lot of a sweet tea on the front end, with sugary oranges and grapefruits. Some syrupy caramel malt steps in, along with light tropical fruits and some Christmas tree pine. The bitterness began to ramp up, finishing with grapefruit rind, dark pine, and dryness. Also awash on the aftertaste is the 7.2% ABV, which becomes a lot more prominent as the drink warms. Breakaway IPA is medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

For my first American Brewing beer, I’m disappointed. I think the hop base here is nice but too timid; the alcohol is a bit much, nearly making me want to skip the last few ounces of this. I’m thinking this brewery attempted a balanced IPA when they should have just let those hops hang out — no shame, folks. I’d still like to sample more of their offerings.

American Brewing Breakaway IPA, 79 points. Price: $6.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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