Tasting Notes: Southern Sixer IPA from Highland Brewing Company

hbcsouthern6erTo feed the hop fiend within, we close out the week by taking some Tasting Notes on Southern Sixer IPA from Highland Brewing Company (Asheville, North Carolina).

Recently released as the brewery’s newest Seasonal offering, Highland Brewing Company developed Southern Sixer IPA to be a West Coast-style India Pale Ale that pays homage to the Southern Sixers – “a group of Southern Appalachian mountains over 6,000 feet in elevation.”  In keeping with this theme of six, this 6% ABV, 60 IBU offering features six hop varietals – Ekuanot™, Mosaic, Columbus, Cascade, Chinook and Simcoe – to result in a golden IPA that “finishes bitter and crisp with a lingering, dank hop presence.”  Southern Sixer IPA is currently available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer-friendly bars, restaurants and retailers found in Alabama, Florida and throughout the rest of the Highland Brewing distribution footprint.

Now that we are caught up on the particulars, let’s grab a pen and a glass so that we can jot down some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Southern Sixer IPA from Highland Brewing Company

Appearance: Southern Sixer pours an orange-tinted, rich golden in color.  When exposed to direct light, the golden yellows glow with intensity and that deep orange tone holds in the center of the glass.  The body is impeccably clear and displays a steady carbonation streaking up to feed the two fingers of snow white foam built off of the pour.  The head retention is quite good and keeps over a finger of a top cap throughout the experience.  The foam has good stick to it and lays down ample chunks of lace after each pull.

Aroma: As soon as the beer begins to flow from the bottle, the hops hit the nose with a flourish. Massive amounts of juicy citrus, grass and pine arrive first.  The beer then opens further to release a tropical melon-like quality that is supported by a touch of sweet grain.  Fresh and quite juicy, but not overly dank or aggressive.

Taste: Pine emerges initially to call the taste buds to attention with some resiny bite.  The hop profile then gradually expands to expose notes of tangerine, orange, papaya, berries, sweet bell peppers, and freshly cut grass.  The malts are light but balance nicely with a countering, honey-like sweetness.  Balance is certainly on point with this one.

Mouthfeel: This IPA is on the lighter side of medium in body and has a carbonation presence that is bright and snappy.  It mostly shows a hoppy bite on the palate, but still leaves a soft touch of sweetness.  Frankly, I cannot believe that this beer is 6% ABV because it drinks more like a sub-4% Session IPA.  Wonderfully crisp, this beer is ridiculously easy drinking and refreshing.  The aftertaste is minimal, but some orange zest and pine hangs back to linger a bit.

Final Thoughts: I have said it before and I will say it again – Highland Brewing Company has been absolutely killing it lately when it comes to their recent string of IPA releases.  Southern Sixer IPA is further proof of this.  As should be the case with any West Coast-inspired IPA, the hops are without a doubt the star in Southern Sixer IPA.  That said, one of the beer’s achievements is that the brewery has pulled off a pleasurable, hop-laden experience that avoids stripping the palate with an overly harsh bitterness.  The malt presence has been expertly tuned to lend the needed level of balance while not taking anything away from the hop flavor.  As impressive as that may be, the true highlight here is the mouthfeel.  Ridiculously crisp and light on the palate, Southern Sixer IPA has the perfect weight to achieve a level of drinkability that will have you three pours deep before you know it.  It has everything you could possibly look for in an IPA experience: big hop flavors and aromatics in a package that is dangerously easy-drinking.  If you are hophead, you need to get you some Southern Sixer IPA before its Seasonal run comes to an end.  Prost!