Thursday, December 29, 2011

Founders: Centennial IPA – A first-class and approachable IPA

Since their 1997 debut, Founders has grown to demonstrate their seriousness about brewing first-class beer, as seen in the brewery’s rising status on BeerAdvocate and Ratebeer. Indeed, I have yet to encounter a Founders beer that says anything otherwise. All told, their Grand Rapids brewery crafts about five year-round products and eight or so seasonal and specialty brews. And Founder’s Centennial IPA is, without a doubt, one of the best IPAs around.

Life outside the bottle begins with a huge creamy slightly off-white head and a translucent orange color  – a perfect representation of what an IPA should look like. The lacing clings to the side of the glass long after the beer has vanished. Powerful and faithful to the style, Centennial’s aroma comes with the predictable pine, flowers, and citrus fruit notes, along with definite hint of malts that nicely compliments the hoppy nose. The carbonation is robust, with a medium body. Not surprisingly, the taste is hop forward. However, generous support is provided by some of noticeable malty notes that trade in some of the bitterness for complexity. Citrusy flavors dominate, followed by some grainy, earthy, and bready tones. The finish delivers a lasting bitter punch, but overall, this is an amazingly well-balanced and easy to approach IPA. And the 7.2 percent ABV speaks volumes about Centennial’s seriousness.

So, if you have the chance to sample this, I’d definitely go with it, even if IPAs are not your favorite style. It’s well balanced and far more complex than many IPAs out there, but with a bit less of bite as well.


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