Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Karl Strauss' Tower 10 IPA

I've wanted to try Karl Strauss' new Tower 10 IPA since it was released.  I originally thought Tower 10 was going to be a limited or periodic release, but it looks like it has replaced Stargazer as Strauss' IPA.  What I really wanted to know was whether Karl Strauss going to join other San Diego brewers in making a top quality IPA, or was it going to continue to produce a sub-par IPA.  Tower 10 is an improvement over Stargazer and Strauss no longer has a "sub-par" IPA.   While Tower 10 is a decent beer, Stone, Alpine, Green Flash, Alesmith, Pizza Port and Ballast Point still make superior IPAs.

I don't think Strauss was trying to emulate other San Diego brewers in creating a West Coast-style IPA, which is an aggressive, hop-centric beer style brewed with a variety of American hops.  The West Coast-style IPA is San Diego's signature beer, and its brewers have defined and perfected it.   Tower 10 is not as aggressive as its San Diego competitors, even though it's brewed with many of the same hops.  It had an earthiness and a touch of vegetal flavor, rather than the pervasive taste of hops.   It weighed towards the grapefruit end of an IPA's pine/grapefruit taste spectrum.  To me, Tower 10 was like a Northwest IPA, in particular, it reminded me of Rouge's various IPAs.  The initial hop bitterness was subtle and more pronounced in the finish.  It was malty IPA, which was probably accounts for the earthiness.  

I did not read the BeerAdvocate reviews on Tower 10, but I don't suspect that the beer geeks fell in love with this beer.   I didn't.  But I get where Karl Strauss is coming from.  It has an excellent distribution system and, in my opinion, is as much a restaurateur as brewer.  Crafting Tower 10 as an accessible beer, rather than a West Coast hop bomb, makes sense for the majority of restaurants that will sell it.  I'd definitely order Tower 10 over many other beers.  Karl Strauss is crafting other beers that will appeal to the beer geeks, which are special releases, some of which get bottled.  I'd like to try its Big Barrel Double IPA and its To The 9s Holiday Ale, both big hoppy beers.  While Tower 10 did not not overly impress me, it's good to see Strauss stepping up its craft brewing game.

1 comment:

Mel said...

Hi Beer Rover,

I work at Karl Strauss. Shoot me an email and I would love to send you a sample of our new 21st Anniversary Ale and our Big Barrel Double IPA.