Firestone Walker – Union Jack

Tasting: April 10, 2012
Style: IPA
ABV%: 7.5%

Firestone Walker Union Jack (c) 2012 popsonhops

I case you didn’t know – the Union Jack is the flag of the United Kingdom which is comprised of England, Scotland and Ireland. The flag itself is actually a merger of the three flags of the countries they represent. So, the “Union” part of the name is easily understandable, while the term “Jack” isn’t quite so clear. A jack flag is the flag that is flown on the bow of a ship and I guess there are those that can’t conceive that the name would come from a secondary position on a ship. So, the official name for the flag is Union Flag and Union Jack is an acceptable alternative.

A lot of brewers attribute their styles to – Great Britain or the countries of Bavaria. It seems that California brewers have a kinship with the stouts, pale ales and India pale ales of the British Isles. Brewers like Firestone-Walker often base their styles on traditional UK beer and then amplify it California style. The phrase pale ale comes from England from a time when beer came in dark, darker and darkest. By today’s standards pale ale isn’t all that pale – but centuries ago this lighter version ale came into fashion – I guess it was the Coors Light of the day. The addition of the phrase India indicated an increase in alcohol strength which acted as a preservative for the long voyage to Indian trade routes.

Firestone-Walker makes a Double IPA beer called Double Jack. I wasn’t initially thrilled with that offering – but have since circled back and would give it a higher rating than my initial 85 – but I don’t want to get in the habit of rewriting my initial impressions and I’ll leave it at that. This one is the single IPA strength version of that Double Jack and it comes with an impressive resume. Union Jack won the gold medal for American IPA at the 2008 and 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

Funny, in my last entry, I commented on Dale’s Pale Ale and how it was “bigger” than a lot of pale ales. I noted that it would stack up against a lot of IPA’s and even some double IPA’s. A few sips in and I think the same could be said for this brew and how it would stand up against double IPA’s. Bright citrus and tropical fruit over some subtle bready malts. Bitterness doesn’t linger on all that long. Not much in the way of sweetness in this one – but it’s real pleasant. Mouthfeel is crisp, medium-bodied and mild carbonation. Really a nice IPA — 89 points

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