The Thanksgiving holiday provided us with the opportunity to try quite a few new libations over the long weekend, so let’s kick the week off by jumping right into some Tasting Notes featuring Mandarina IPA from Highland Brewing Company (Asheville, North Carolina).
First released back in June, Mandarina IPA was created as Highland Brewing Company’s answer to the incredibly popular and expanding segment of fruited India Pale Ales filling craft beer shelves these days. For this offering, the brewers at Highland achieved a massive citrus profile thanks to the use of German Mandarina Bavaria and Hull Melon hops and hundreds of pounds of puréed whole California oranges. The beer is then supported by a classic IPA backbone reinforced with Cascade, Chinook and Bravo hops. All of this culminates into a “palate-pleasing, fruity crusher burst[ing] with intense orange and tropical notes and assert[ing] a crisp, bright finish.” Mandarina IPA is a year-round release available now in 12 oz. cans, 12 oz. bottles, and on draft. You can find this one in Alabama, Florida and throughout the full distribution area of Highland Brewing Company. With those details covered, I believe it is now time to fill this Spiegelau IPA glass and jot down some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Mandarina IPA from Highland Brewing Company
Appearance: Mandarina IPA fills the glass with a rich, golden yellow liquid softly painted with subtle brushstrokes of the lightest of oranges. Held to direct light, the beer softens to expose gentle gold and pale, straw yellow tones. The body is pristine in its clarity and displays a carbonation activity dashing throughout. The pour built over two fingers of airy, white foam. That head eventually drops down to a thin, but complete top cap that lays down traces of lace. As I gently swirl the beer around, it is easy to see that it is quite slick on the glass. Utterly beautiful in presentation.
Aroma: Have you ever walked into a kitchen where someone is slicing a large amount of oranges or visited an establishment that makes fresh orange juice right in front of their guests? If so, then you know the exact aroma that is pleasantly permeating my senses at this very moment. Ridiculously bright, citrusy notes fill the air with ease. So clean. So natural. Such a blatantly spot on representation of orange juice and zest. Tropical hop notes reside underneath, but stand no chance of competing with this aromatic blitz of citrus.
Taste: Orange zest leads this flavorful charge with a gentle sweetness and a little pithy bitterness. The flavors then shift to the center of the fruit to produce notes of freshly squeezed orange juice. The hops surface to complement with tropical fruit flavors of tangerine, grapefruit, mango and melon. A light malt sweetness balances the hops and encompasses the entire flavor profile by adding a bit of a candied orange-like effect. Incredibly nuanced and balanced here.
Mouthfeel: This IPA rests on the lighter side of medium in body with a bright carbonation presence. It may be bitter and sweet on the palate, but the beer quickly dries out cleanly and crisply. There is a slight tinge of ABV heat on the throat, but it is barely noticeable. The aftertaste is the whole orange: zest, pith, juice and pulp. This beer is basically the definition of easy-drinking and quenching.
Final Thoughts: The brewers at Highland Brewing Company obviously had their sights set on having Mandarina IPA harness the essence of the orange, and their aim has proven incredibly true. Although the fruit is the star here, this beer is by no means one dimensional. Whether they originate from the hops or the malts, all of the notes within the base IPA are allowed to complement and play nicely with the orange character. From the first to the last sip, it is clear that a lot of care, consideration and attention went into crafting Mandarina IPA. In conclusion, this is a fantastic offering that can either act as a wonderful introduction to the world of India Pale Ales or as a thirst-quenching, daily drinker for the most avid of hopheads. In other words, this is a must try brew. Prost!