Style: American IPA
From the remote center of America, the mysterious land of Ohio (??!?) comes a challenger to the IPA throne. My friends have been touting the awesomeness of Fat Head's Head Hunter IPA since last fall, and the internet backs them up — this beer has great reviews across the board. So there was some pressure for it to live up to — as there is any time you try a beer you strongly suspect will be great. Expectations can lead to disappointment, yes, but sometimes heightened satisfaction.
Head Hunter is a model citizen of American IPAs — the kind of beer that, however new, seems to retroactively insert itself into the definition of what a great American IPA is. If you've had Ithaca Flower Power or Pliny the Elder, you know what I'm talking about — Head Hunter is "along the lines" of those beers, featuring the new-classic hop varieties Simcoe, Centennial and Columbus. (And while I'm comparing it to other world-class IPAs that I recently reviewed, it does lack the juicy, rich mind-f*** of Heady Topper.) It is paved with American hop aromas, hitting you alternately with mango, grapefruit, pine and citrus. It is a headbutt of dry hop character, apathetic to your malty desires. There is a touch of sweetness at the end, but just the right amount to accentuate the juicy hops without contributing any significantly malty flavor. Head Hunter is so perfectly quintessential, so carefully calibrated, that it's hard to actually describe it beyond that. This is what a great American IPA tastes like.
As I alluded to, there are other American IPAs hitting most or much of the same marks as Head Hunter. That, I think, is very important: every region should have its perfect, quintessential American IPA. The style requires freshness to a degree that sabotages most attempts to export it. These great IPAs need to be consumed as fresh as possible, within weeks, not months. And so I believe that every state needs one, and Ohio now has theirs.
Availability: Year-round. So far as I can tell, this is only available in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.