Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ithaca - Flower Power IPA Review

Brewery: Ithaca (NY)
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Grade: A

Not long after I had my Heady Topper revelation — Heady Topper being, easily, my favorite IPA — I happened to steal a bottle of Ithaca Flower Power from a friend at a party. I have a pretty long history with this beer, having first gotten into craft beer while going to school in upstate New York; in fact, Flower Power is probably one of the very first IPAs I ever tried. It's that beer you've been drinking for so long, it's easy to take it for granted — but comparing it in my mind with the best IPA I'd ever had, it was nice to see that Flower Power has become a classic for a reason: this taken-for-granted lil' guy is one of the best IPAs in the world. Yeah.

Flower Power is floral, yes. The nose especially is full of extremely fragrant flowery, grassy and piney hops, but the flavor is bursting with fruit. The classic "American IPA" citrus/grapefruit character is insanely rich here, with all sorts of tropical flavors following it into a very clean, crisp finish with only a hint of sweetness. Flower Power is on the dry side even for an IPA, but this seems to set up its bold fruity hop character — allowing it to, if you will, "pop." Nothing clings to your tastebuds, making the next sip just as rich and flavorful. You can keep your too-sweet wheat beers and balanced blondes: this is the ideal thirst-quencher for a hot summer day, in my opinion. Just have to be a little more careful about getting hammered.

At 7.5% ABV, Flower Power still feels dangerously like a sessionable pale ale, though a small voice in the back of my head is warning me: "take it easy, champ." So clean, refreshing, and rich with fruity hops — this is the kind of beer I can barely put down long enough to write out the review. It's a good thing I have more than one bottle, which brings me to my other point: Flower Power is pretty easy to find across (most of) the northeast, and you (probably won't) have to race anyone to the cash register to buy it, either. Not long after my Heady Topper revelation, and then my Flower Power revelation, I was able to drink Pliney the Elder, Heady Topper, and Flower Power within the same five-day span. And I gotta say, for all its lack of hype, Flower Power holds up magnificently against that famous west coast IPA — Pliney might be a little better when it's extremely fresh, but only a little. Us New Yorkers should not be taking this one for granted.

Availability: Year-round. Sixpacks of 12 ounce bottles.

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