Tasting Notes: Partner Ships IPL from Heavy Seas Beer and Cigar City Brewing

CCBHSIPLPour_edited1000This week’s installment of Tasting Notes gets a double dose of styles and breweries as we have a look at Partner Ships IPL from Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland) and Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida).

This very special IPL (India Pale Lager) comes to us as the latest installment in Heavy Seas Beer’s Partner Ships Series, a lineup of limited releases that “features beers produced in collaboration with other regionally and nationally recognized brewers in the spirit of friendship, creativity, and adventure.”  Heavy Seas teamed up with Cigar City Brewing this time around to brew a golden lager that combines “bready malt aromatics” with a sizable hop bill (Cascade, Centennial, Mosaic, Simcoe & Mandarina Bavaria) that one might associate with an American India Pale Ale.  Thanks to “late addition kettle hops followed by extensive dry-hopping”, the 7.8% ABV Partner Ships IPL comes together to provide “full citrus and tropical fruit flavors and aromas balancing a soft bitterness.”  Partner Ships IPL is available now in 22 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Maryland and throughout the rest of Heavy Sea Beer’s distribution area.

Now that we have worked our way through the details behind Partner Ships IPL, let’s dig a little deeper by pouring a glass and getting into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Partner Ships IPL from Heavy Seas Beer & Cigar City Brewing

Appearance:  Partner Ships IPL pours a yellow-tinged copper in color and is wearing a solid two fingers of creamy white foam.  When held to direct light, the color brightens intensely to reveal a beautiful, deep golden.  Pristine in clarity, the beer displays an abundant carbonation presence plugging away within.  Head has good retention, but it does eventually reduce down to a lasting and lush half finger that leaves behind wide sheets of lace on the glass.

Aroma: The first note to hit the nose is a solid, spot-on lager maltiness that has a nice and comforting bready quality to it.  Starting with an earthy, floral character predominately comprised of piney and grassy notes, the hops creep forward, slowly build, and finish with a citrus flourish of lemon, grapefruit and tangerine.

Taste:  In this arena, the hops strike first with a bright pop of grapefruit, orange and lemon zest.  That initial citrus hop bite softens to expose floral, grassy and piney tones just before a second fruity wave rises to engulf the palate with notes of tangerine and tropical fruit.  The beer closes with a slightly sweet, pilsner malt breadiness and just a bit of booziness.

Mouthfeel:  Medium bodied with a soft carbonation, this IPL has a good amount of weight to it but still remains highly drinkable.  The expected bitterness is there, but it is subdued and nicely balanced by just the right amount of sweet malt character.  That 7.8% ABV brings a little heat, but it does not take away from the experience.  The aftertaste leaves behind some tangerine zest and a touch of alcohol.

Final Thoughts:  The greatest takeaway from our experience with Partner Ships IPL was the remarkable way that Heavy Seas and Cigar City retained the soul of a beautiful lager in a beer that had its hop bill pumped up to true American IPA levels.  In a hybrid style where the malts are often nothing more than an afterthought these days, this IPL’s Pilsen and Vienna malts are distinctly present and play just as much a role as the hops.  Sure, it causes the alcohol to intrude on the flavor a touch, but it does so in a way that does not damage a profile more abundantly filled with delightful floral, bready, earthy, fruity and crackery notes.  Even at that 7.8% ABV, Partner Ships IPL possesses a level of drinkability that allows for one person to easily crush a 22 oz. bomber in a sitting or sip on all day while in a cookout or get-together kind of atmosphere.  This is a beer drinker’s beer, and that’s something we all can get behind, right?  Be sure to check out Partner Ships IPL before its limited run comes to an end.  Prost!