Tasting Notes: Phase Change from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasPhaseChangePourx600For this installment of Tasting Notes, we recognize the seasonal shift from spring to summer by getting into a few pours of Phase Change, a “seasonally unexpected” Wet-Hopped Juicy Ale, from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Engineered to serve as the “next chapter in [Lagunitas Brewing Company’s] quest to brew wet-hop beers out of wet-hop season”, Phase Change is an unfiltered Wet Hop Pale Ale “packed full of lupulin-drenched Simcoe, Citra & Mosaic hops.” Coming in at 7.4% ABV and 60 IBUs, Phase Change is “a juicy game changer” bursting with “seasonally unexpected wet-hop flavor.”

The time-bending wet-hop goodness found within Phase Change is made possible thanks to Lagunitas’ “new ‘hops liquification’ process that lets [the brewery] preserve and store . . . wet hops (generally only usable just after harvest), and brew a wet-hop beer a full 6 months later.”

Phase Change released back in May and is scheduled to hang around for another week or so.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas’ distribution area.

Now that we are all up-to-date on how this “seasonally unexpected” wet-hopped beer has come to be, let’s pop the top on a bottle and fully experience a Phase Change with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Phase Change from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance:  Phase Change fills the glass with a hazy, light orange to golden yellow liquid that is topped with almost a finger of tight, bright white foam.  When held to direct light, the golden yellow tones gain vibrancy and dominate the appearance.  Although this Pale Ale does have some haze to it, you can still distinguish a steady carbonation presence meandering about within.  Head retention is good, falling somewhat quickly to a paper thin but complete top cap of creamy foam that absolutely saturates the glass with heavy sheets of lace after each pull.

Aroma:  As soon as the cap is removed from the bottle, the nose is greeted by that indescribably comforting grassy note of wet hops.  This beautifully clean and welcoming note then opens the door for fruity tropical notes of tangerine, mango, orange peel and grapefruit.  A touch of pine surfaces near the end of the experience to coax that grassy wet hop character forward once again, harmoniously bringing everything full circle.

Taste:  Living up to its “juicy” descriptor, this beer’s fruitier side hits the palate first with citrusy notes of sweet orange, tangerine and grapefruit that blend perfectly with tropical tones of mango, guava and pineapple.  A substantial pine presence then surprisingly turns up to break up the juice fest a bit and remind everyone of the West Coast flair that Lagunitas is known for.  Slightly bready malts sneak in to provide some balance before giving way completely to allow that exquisite grassy wet hop note to dominate the finish.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in body with a medium carbonation, Phase Change comes across incredibly light, refreshing and easy drinking.  Despite leaving a subtle presence of bitterness in the finish, this beer is a fantastic balance of bitterness, juicy hoppiness and malt sweetness.  It is downright shocking that this Pale Ale is 7.4% ABV because it shows no hint of heat and drinks far lighter than that ABV would lead you to believe. The aftertaste leaves behind a touch of mango and a whole lot of fresh cut grass.

Final Thoughts: Whenever I run across the words “wet-hopped” on a beer label or tap list, I immediately expect and yearn for this incredibly fresh and green grassy note – in both flavor and aroma – that is almost impossible to fully describe but also equally impossible to miss when done right.  Although created completely out of wet hop season, Phase Change somehow meets and exceeds that expectation.  Even for a wet hop beer, the aromatics are truly off the charts and intoxicating and that delightful grassy note carries throughout the entire experience.

Beyond that, it is clear that Lagunitas had some fun with this one as it slipped some sharply bitter, pine resiny, West Coast-style goodness into its Juicy Pale Ale take on the wet hop beer. This quirky approach results in a recklessly elegant composition that just works.  Incredibly satisfying and wildly refreshing, Phase Change really is a perfect beer option to help hopheads transition from spring to summer.  Be sure to check this one out before its limited run comes to an end.  Prost!