Tasting: February 25, 2013
Style: Ale (Black IPA/Brown Ale)
Utah’s Epic Brewing produces three distinct lines of beer: “Classic”; “Elevated” and “Exponential”.
They describe the six labels in their Classic line as the “not so basic” basic beers — a jumping off point to boutique craft beer if you will.
Their Elevated series is comprised of four labels that showcase their brewer’s flexibility within four different beer styles: State Street Stout; Copper Cone Pale Ale; Brainless Golden Belgian Ale and Hopulent IPA. With each progressive release in the the Elevated series, the brewmaster tweaks the recipe.
Finally, their Exponential series puts the craft in craft brewing. It’s pure culinary experimentation. There are currently twenty-four different beers released in the Exponential series including a few of my favorites — Big Bad Baptist Stout (94 points), Imperial IPA (93 points), Imperial Red (88 points) and Hop Syndrome (88 points). Each exponential release is limited to a few thousand bomber-sized bottles. As with the Elevated series, Exponential beers are tweaked with each progressive release. Surprisingly, there are usually a few Exponential labels readily available at better beer stores in New Jersey, and I can whole-heartedly recommend giving them a try.
Santa Cruz is part of the Exponential line and is described as a hybrid brown ale/black IPA. This bottle is part of the 5th release of this particular label. Since it’s an early batch, I can summarize the various tweaks:
Batch number one: bottled in January 2012 – 6.4% ABV.
Batch number two: bottled in March of 2012. It contains the same grain bill — more hops –6.8% ABV
Batch number three: bottled in December of 2012. More Apollo hops in the hopback — 7.2% ABV
Batch number four (extremely limited): bottled in late December of 2012. It featured new addition of flaked oats and was dry hopped with equal parts Apollo and Centennial hops – 7.4% ABV.
Batch number five was bottled on January of 2013 and continues the use of flaked oats, no dry-hopping — 6.8% ABV
Pours a flat brown color and has a hoppy aroma. Initial blast of sweetness and nice roasted flavors, but the are soon overtaken by some solid citric and pine hops. The oats are supposed to lend a creamy mouthfeel – but it isn’t apparent here. This one isn’t brawny – but it isn’t meek by any means. It’s simply a nice middle of the road offering. If you haven’t had a black IPA – I can suggest this one as an introduction to the style. It is quite enjoyable, I’ll put it at 87 points.