Beer Review 0495: Appalachian Mountain Baba Budan Coffee IPA

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Appalachian Mountain Brewery (Boone, North Carolina) are brand new babes when it comes to craft beer. They’ve been brewing since February 14, 2013, and only in the last couple of weeks have they had their official grand opening.

The brewery is community oriented; profits from each pint are donated to local nonprofit organizations and they participate in a grain exchange with local farms. Also, the brewery offsets its electrical demands with solar panels. Appalachian is the first craft brewery to call Boone home.

On their website, Appalachian explain that they “love converting the lite-lager drinkers into hoppy beer drinkers, one IBU at a time.” We like that they say that, and happen to have one of their IPAs for review.

Baba Budan Coffee IPA is named after the merchant and smuggler himself, who introduced the first seeds of the coffee plant from Yemen to India in the 17th century. The beer is a West Coast-style IPA brewed with 40 pounds of locally roasted coffee from Espresso News, a local coffee shop. Baba Budan comes in at 6.6% ABV (alcohol by volume) and registers 50 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Thanks to my friend Henri for bringing back a growler of this purchased while vacationing in Boone.

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Pouring showcased a very fresh beer that produced a large head, off-white in color, soapy in texture in the center but creamy towards the edges of the glass. Color of the beer was golden with some lighter yellow highlights; the body was clear, free of particles and sediment. Lacing was perfect, delivering creamy and thick sheets that hung to the glass like thick, puffy clouds.

On the nose, we’ve got a balance going on here — but it’s not a typical balance you might think of between hops and malts, it’s a balance between hops and coffee. I know I was thinking that 40 pounds of coffee doesn’t sound like much when brewing a beer, but considering I don’t know how big the batch was or how potent the beans are (or that much about making beer, if we’re getting technical), the coffee is very prevalent. And it’s a wonderful thing: black coffee with a twinge of hazelnut sweetener collide with largely citrus and grapefruit hops with a fair amount of resinous pine and a light edge of fleshy tropical fruits. There’s a bit of grain in the malt category; as the beer warms, the coffee becomes the star and turns the drink nutty. This beer smells like it will be fairly bitter.

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And it is. Initially, the flavors start out quite sweet, with a solid, thick layer of coffee, hazelnut, and a blast of sweet candy hops; fleshy grapefruit, orange, and mango. Middle of the taste turns resinous and the flavor of pine brings on the finish, which does turn moderately bitter, introducing grapefruit rind and another hit of coffee, this time unsweetened by any (whether it be imaginary or not) hazelnut. After swallowing and clicking my tongue to the roof of my mouth, I have to wonder about the prescribed 50 IBUs — seems like it should be more. Baba Budan is medium-bodied, with a medium, creamy mouthfeel.

I’ve had a few coffee IPAs in my drinking years, and I have to say nearly all of them disappointed. Either they didn’t have much coffee flavor or they were bitter bombs, with the coffee combining with natural hop bitterness and just providing too many IBUs. But this beer blends coffee and hops with expert deftness, and it’s insanely drinkable. Color me very impressed with this new brewery — I’ll be on the lookout for more beers from Boone.

Appalachian Mountain Baba Budan Coffee IPA, 92 points. Price: A growler gift from a friend. The best gift one can give! Or receive.

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