Bitter. Juicy. Floral. Potent. Piney. Citrusy. Dank. Hoppy. Big. Hazy.
These and other superlatives have been used to describe America’s most popular beer style: the IPA, or India Pale Ale if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. Certainly, this popular beer style is not without its detractors. “I don’t like hoppy beers” and “It’s too bitter” are sometimes heard among beer drinkers not acclimated to its unique, bold flavor and punch. However, I pose said detractors with the challenge that it’s not a matter of disliking hoppy beers; it’s simply they haven’t stumbled upon the one they like yet.
Keep drinking. There’s a hoppy soulmate out there for us all.
No matter the hop profile and overall characteristics of the vast, diverse world of IPAs presents to us, one word can be used by hop lovers to summarize them all: Wonderful. Look no further than your favorite beer distributor’s shelves, your neighborhood watering hole’s tap lineup, or your local brewery’s portfolio. IPAs are prevalent. They sell, they’re bold, they’re refreshing, they’re challenging. And, quite frankly, a day without an IPA is like a day without sunshine and purveyors of good beer know this.
Speaking of purveyors of good beer, Samuel Adams has been one of those entities for years. They were doing craft beer before craft beer was cool and their Boston Lager is personally responsible for transforming countless light macro beer drinkers into full-fledged craft beer consumers. One transitioning beer drinker at a time, craft beer continues to be all the rage and high-quality, artisanal offerings from coast to coast have opened up the floodgates to the renaissance you and I are currently experiencing today.
Like all craft breweries, Samuel Adams is looking to brew against the grain and bring to market the most unique beers possible. With that in mind, Samuel Adams just brewed and canned its second batch of Rebel Raw Double IPA. This beer was released in limited quantities on its first go-round and received tremendous praise, encouraging the folks at Sam Adams to brew a second batch and introduce it to a few new cities.
I was fortunate to receive two cans fresh off the line, overnighted to me so I could give it a whirl and give you my take. For that, I say thank you, Samuel Adams! I received it on Thursday last week and, in complete defiance of the can’s instructions to DRINK IT NOW, cracked them open on Friday evening. I guess you can say I’m a…sigh…rebel.
The reason it’s critical to drink an IPA quickly is that hop character diminishes over time. Unlike stouts, barleywines, and malt-forward offerings, IPAs do not age well and an aggressively hop-forward beer like Rebel Raw is intended to drink at its freshest point. Seven different hops were part of the brewing of this big, hoppy IPA, which tips the scales at 10% ABV and 100 IBUs. As a proponent of beers that rip the enamel off my teeth, I couldn’t wait to dive into Rebel Raw.
This Double IPA hit me exactly as advertised. To use some of those aforementioned superlatives, Rebel Raw features a hazy, cloudy appearance, floral and citrusy on the nose, smooth mouthfeel, and notes of citrus fruits like grapefruit and orange, as well as pine in the overall flavor. It finishes clean with the bitterness lingering for a bit. Rebel Raw is tremendously balanced and very drinkable for its size and IBUs.
Because Rebel Raw is meant to enjoy as fresh as possible, it has a 35-day shelf life – the shortest shelf life a Samuel Adams beer has ever contained. It was brewed with seven different hop varieties and 7 lbs. of hops per barrel, with each hop variety imparting specific flavors and aromas to the brew:
- Polaris (added in the kettle) – fruity and intensely floral with notes of fresh mint
- Galaxy (added in the kettle) – citrusy, spicy and herbal with hints of green fruit and red berries
- Amarillo (added in the kettle) – orange, grapefruit, and tangerine notes with slight fruit sweetness
- Zeus (added in the kettle) – earthy and spicy with hints of citrus
- Centennial (during dry-hopping) – medium citrus, intensely floral with hints of wood
- Cascade (during dry-hopping) – Floral, spicy citrus and grapefruit with hints of red berries
- Simcoe (during dry hopping) – Intense pine with aromas of passionfruit and apricot
Rebel Raw was brewed in a very limited quantity and will be available in May in 4-packs of 16oz. cans. It can be found on the shelves in the following markets:
- Denver, Colorado
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Chicago, Illinois
- Throughout Minnesota
- Long Island and New York City, New York
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Canton, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, Ohio
- Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Dallas, Texas
- Throughout Rhode Island
- Throughout Massachusetts
Due to its limited quantity and short shelf life, Rebel Raw will not last too long. So, pro tip: Don’t hesitate. Pick some up immediately. This Double IPA is a fantastic addition to the Samuel Adams portfolio and, if I dare say, may be that hoppy soulmate you’ve been looking for.
To all my local Pittsburgh craft beer enthusiasts, where you can find Rebel Raw Double IPA has not yet been released, but I will put out those locations in a separate blog post as soon as I know. You can discover all the locations that Rebel Raw will be sold across the country on the Sam Adams blog.