Rising Above the Chaos
A Review of Centennial IPA by Founders Brewing Co.
Posted on 4/4/2013 by Chops
                   
Exquisite
Thanks to the craft beer movement, we now have access to so many different varieties of beer and our palates are expanding every day. But, there is one particular style that is getting flogged like a rented mule. Of course I a talking about the India Pale Ale (IPA). This is the beer style that prompted the brewing world to say, ''let's see just how far we can push our luck.'' The result is a glut of palate punishing brews, many of which are flat undrinkable. Unfortunately, this has created a wildly skewed expectation where truly great examples of the style can easily get lost in the chaos. That is, unless you have the rock solid reputation of the Founders Brewing Company. I recently sat down with their Centennial IPA, a dry-hopped unfiltered version. This is one of the very, very few IPAs on the market that not only dominates the game, but also rises above it as a stellar example of the style.

In the glass, this beer has a semi-hazy orange coloration. It comes with a frothy white head that has really good retention. On the nose, I was greeted with a big burst of grapefruit citrus resting on top of a sweet caramel malt. That's it. That's all you need to make a great IPA. The aroma is very big, very bold, very enticing, and very direct. There are no oddball additives or weird misdirections, just a straight up bittersweet citrus and a solid malt base. Bam!

Here's one trait of a great IPA that I think more people should pay attention to: the mouthfeel should grab your attention before the hops. This is not set in stone mind you, but if the first word to reach your brain is ''smooth'' after taking the first sip of a bold IPA, then you're really on to something special. This beer is very smooth for the style with a nice medium body and perfect balance. The hops themselves are appropriately aggressive and very flavorful, so you don't have to deal with a dry throat punch. This brew actually has the citrus flavor of fresh squeezed orange juice with a zesty spiciness. I also found some tropical fruit notes swirling around, namely mango. The beer finishes clean with a savory bitter citrus aftertaste.

Overall, the Founders Centennial IPA is a perfect beer. There are only a handful of beers on the market that can be utilized as bench markers, i.e. if you don't like the beer, then you don't like the style. This is one such beer. If you don't like the Centennial IPA, then you can confidently say that you don't like IPAs. Fans of good beer have come to expect high quality from the Founders Brewing Company and they consistently deliver on that expectation. They are very well known for their big bold brews, yet they have the self awareness to apply restraint where needed. That's a rare quality to find in a brewery these days. Sure, I could opt for the 12% Devil Dancer Triple IPA and get my crazy on. But if a beer like that is to garner appeal, it has to come from a solid foundation. Centennial IPA is that foundation, and it's as solid as you can get.

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Centennial IPA by Founders Brewing Co.
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