Sometimes the Little Guys Need Love Too
A Review of Carolina India Pale Ale by Carolina Brewing Co.
Posted on 5/24/2011 by Chops
It's times like this when I feel bad for the little guys. If you were to appropriately factor in distribution reach, size and age of a brewery into the perceived quality of a beer, then this would be a stellar IPA. But as a critic, I have to compare it to the truly mind blowing IPAs out there by the masters of the brewing world. So it's hard not to feel bad for these three guys from a little town in North Carolina who have managed to create a really tasty IPA. It's like a minor league baseball player pitching a perfect game. It's a great accomplishment, but it still doesn't mean you can compete with the majors.

Carolina IPA has a gorgeous deep bronze coloration with an lovely unfiltered thickness. Based on looks alone, this IPA can stand toe-to-toe with the best ones on the market. The smell is also on par with a quality IPA, lots of big hops and tangy citrus. The taste is quite nice, but unfortunately falls a tad short of initial impressions. Most of the major IPA taste notes and mouthfeel traits are met. It's aggressive and hoppy up front, then balances out with citrus notes in the middle. I'd say my only real gripe with this beer is that it presents itself as much stronger than it actually is. As a lighter 5.4% ABV, those big flavors die quick and the finish leaves you wanting. Each sip starts off strong, but loses momentum through the finish.

Overall, the Carolina IPA is a regional gem. I can happily recommend it to any level of beer fan as an enjoyable session IPA. But unfortunately it's just not competitive on the world stage. On the other hand, novices will appreciate the small ABV and lighter finish as a great intro into the IPA style. You get all those great initial IPA flavors without the face punch.

Considering the origins of the Carolina IPA and the love that went into creating it, I happily indulge. Appreciate it for what it is, support your local suds, and give thanks to those hard working guys over at Carolina Brewing Co.

Cheers fellas!

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Carolina India Pale Ale by Carolina Brewing Co.
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