Nick Carr on July 28, 2017 2 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Karbach Brewing Company Location Houston, TX Style American IPA ABV 6.6% IBU 65 Hops German Magnum, Cascade, Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe, East Kent Goldings Malts 2 Row Pale, Medium Crystal, Dark Crystal, Munich, Biscuit Shelf Life 3 to 6 months Suggested Glass IPA Glass Serving Temp 45-50°F Availability Year Round Food Pairings Grilled Steak, Tai Red Curry, Gorgonzola Cheese, Carrot Cake The other day my dad took a trip to El Paso and grabbed a six pack of Karbach’s Hopadillo IPA. Well, far be it from me to pass up a golden opportunity to review something not available over here in New Mexico, so I dutifully dawned my beer reviewing hat, poured myself a tall glass of curiosity, arrayed the tools of the trade about me (pen and pad, sensory wheel, excited taste buds) and jumped right in. Karbach Brewery has come a long way in a short time. The brewery was first founded in 2011 by Chuck Robertson and Ken Goodman. Both Chuck and Ken were already veterans of the beverage industry having run C.R. Goodman Distribution Company since the 80’s. In 2008, they sold the distribution company to Ben E. Keith Beverages with an eye to getting into a new beer adventure. Using a warehouse on Karbach Street in Houston — incidentally the same warehouse they’d used as home for their distribution company — they took a couple steps back down the beer chain from distribution, took up barley, hops, yeast, and water, and began to craft their own. To put this new dream into action they teamed with Eric Warner, a brewer who got his training in Germany, worked at breweries like Flying Dog, and even published a couple of books about German beer styles. Hopadillo IPA was one of Karbach’s original beers and still makes up about 35 percent of the brewery’s total output. The new brewery was a big deal. Within two years they were producing 20,000 hectoliters and in their third year they reached the limits of their capacity, topping out at 47,000 hectoliters. By the end of 2014 they had expanded and increased capacity to 120,000 hectoliters and they were still growing. In 2016, feeling they’d reached the limits of what they could do on their own in terms of distribution and capacity expansion, they made the decision to sell Karbach to Anheuser-Busch. For many craft beer purists out there, this is an unforgivable misstep. Some might even go as far as to call it a traitorous act. Though I certainly don’t like seeing the big macro companies getting any more money or slicing off pieces of the craft brewing pie, I can, at least, understand why making such a deal could be hard to pass up. The opportunities it opens up for expansion and greater distribution are tremendous. If assurances are built into the contract that the brewery will be able to operate somewhat autonomous — same brewing process, ingredients, workforce — I can see where such a deal can start looking pretty good… for some. So, though I probably will not go out of my way to find their beer — I’d rather have my money driving fully self-ruling craft breweries — I would still try some of their other beer, because I’m always curious about beer I’ve not tried; as Hopadillo is new to me at this moment. So, I’ll raise my glass and review it, even enjoy it, if it turns out to be a good one. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Karbach’s Hopadillo IPA. If you tasted this beer or have a can open in front of you now, please share your thoughts with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Hopadillo pours a clean medium amber. Clarity is good, opening a window into the heavy streams of carbonation shooting up toward the surface. A pillowy two finger head blankets the top like so much off-white sea spume caught in an eddy. Head retention is excellent dropping slowly over the first few minutes, but holding, never disappearing completely. Aroma is mostly of the hop persuasion here. Big citrus and pine at the front with some grassy notes tagging along just underneath. There is also some light earthiness and fruity whispers, no doubt, at least in part, a contribution of the additions of European hops. Lightly sweet malt backbone. Pleasant, but not overly complex. Mouthfeel and Taste: Mouthfeel is astringent across the palate and dries out toward the finish. Body is a pleasant and satiating light-medium. Hopadillo IPA is nicely balanced. A combination of hops and malt play well toward the front of the palate. Might pick out some biscuit and caramel, but really the malt characteristics, other than the sweetness, are pretty mild. Med-palate, as you’d expect it transitions toward the hops, bringing an even, but not overly intense bitterness. Resin and a bit of grassiness follow. Toward the back the malt sweetness reappears before drying out on the finish and leaving the Hopadillo prowling and rubbing at the back of your throat building a long lasting reminder of his passing in the aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS Not a bad beer. I don’t know that I’d call it distinct, though its mixture of hop characteristics is nice. I like its assertive, yet not overwhelming bitterness and some of the more subtle aromas and flavors that dosing with so many different hops can impart. It also has nice balance. Overall, complexity may be lacking a bit, but more would likely be brought out by serving it at a slightly warmer temperature.