Brewery: Uinta (UT)
I am contractually obligated to give props to all breweries that date their beer. Uinta is one such brewery. Props, guys. My bottle of Hop Notch was bottled two months before I opened so, so while it could always be fresher, it's within the limits for how long an IPA should retain its intended flavor and aroma. Would this be a better beer at 2 weeks old? Yes, for sure. But when drinking an IPA, you have to read between the lines a bit, depending on its age.
Hop Notch falls into a realm of IPAs I've begun to think of as "quintessential" IPAs — IPAs that go for balanced hop character, balanced hop flavors, balanced bitterness, balanced maltiness,et cetera. It's not a citrus bomb or pine bomb or harsh bitterness bomb, but it treats each of those approaches with equal respect and attention. It's not quite "da bomb" (sorry, I'm so sorry) either, but the results are very satisfying. It captures what a good American IPA should be. Frankly, I've had too many different IPAs at this point to try to compare them all in my head, so just imagine me vaguely waving at a shelf of the better ones by means of comparison.
That said, the more I drink of it, the more tricks Hop Notch has up its sleeve. There's an interesting orange peel flavor in the finish; maybe a bit in the aroma too. (Summit or Apollo hops, perhaps?) It's a nice touch that gives this IPA its own unique character — assuming you're paying close attention. There are other general fruity flavors, so the orange isn't particularly prominent; on certain sips, I catch more pine or earthy dryness, but that's a sign of good complexity. So if you just want something dropping off a big hop character (with a nice biting bitterness), Hop Notch delivers that too. (Also, the graphic on the label is a farmer delivering big hops. So, delivering puns. Indeed.)
Availability: 12 ounce bottles, sixpacks. Year round.