If Latitude 48 IPA from Sam Adams was available way back in 2008 when The Brew Club began, my whole beer journey might have taken a different, and possibly more interesting path.
Well, one of the first beers that The Brew Club members exchanged in June 2008 was the wildly popular Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. Keep in mind I hardly knew what craft beer was at the time, and I certainly had no idea what an ‘Americanized’ IPA was!
The Dogfish Head 60 was among my first craft beers, and quite frankly, I wasn’t ready for it at al.! As a matter of fact, I found it so much of an assault on my senses, that I wrote off the whole IPA scene until just last year. What a shame.
I started easing back into the style, and found a few that I really enjoyed, particularly the non-standard Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA. I gradually got accustomed, and even started to enjoy the intense bitterness that the IPA offered. Now, I’ll entertain buying an IPA when shopping for beer whereas before I wouldn’t even consider it. For me, it was just an acquired taste, but the main thing is that I DID acquire it!
Sam Adam’s rendition of the popular beer style is, I think, a great starter IPA. Clearly, it is not as extreme, bitter, hoppy, or challenging as the aforementioned DFH 60, but I think that’s where Sam Adams as a whole targets its beers. High quality, decent price, great availability, but nothing too extreme. Certainly they push the envelope with their Utopias, and they are branching out with collaboration beers like the sort-of dud Infinium, but for the most part, their bread and butter beers are high quality middle-of-the-road beers that appeal to most craft beer drinkers in some way or another.
Latitude 48 IPA is a great example I think, and as I said, if this were the first IPA I tried, I’d be an IPA pro at this stage instead of a neophyte!
Its got all of the qualities of a good IPA, the bitterness, the color, the aroma, but to me they came across much more balanced than the extreme versions that usually get all of the attention. It might have more balance because Sam Adams uses a variety of hops from around the world that reside in the ‘hop belt’, or places that hops like to grow. In this case, hops are used from the Pacific Northwest, England, and Germany to give the beer a nice cosmopolitan profile, and I think it works quite well.
As I was drinking my bottle of Latitude 48, I couldn’t help but think that it seemed more similar to the Sam Smith’s India Pale Ale, which is English, than its American counterparts.
To wrap it up, I’d say if you are an IPA freak, you’ll probably be underwhelmed by this offering from Sam Adams. Its probably too pedestrian for you. But, if you’re like me and just starting to get into the American IPA scene, I don’t see how you can go wrong by giving this beer a try. From what I can tell, its a good representation of what the IPA style is all about (which is hoppy bitterness), but at the same time it won’t chase you away from the IPA style for a few years like happened to me.
And if this wasn’t enough, Sam Adams released a limited-edition 12 pack of single-hop beers based on the Latitude IPA. Talk about beer education! With this 12 pack, you’ll be able to compare what the beer would taste like with two bottles each of the 5 different single hops used in the Lat 48 IPA. It should be on the shelves now. (Mid May, 2011).
I picked one up, and I’m really looking forward to checking it out!
In the meantime, I’m giving the Latitude 48 IPA a solid three stars. I’d have it again, and I think its going to be a regular fixture in my Summer beer rotation this year!