Most of the beer that I drink nowadays is made in North Carolina; more so, a lot of it is brewed locally. Particularly the hoppy stuff. That’s not a slap at other states, it’s just the fact that I can get world-class beer right at my doorstep, fresher and faster than if it is transported from out-of-state. This is particularly important with IPAs and other hop-forward styles, as a lot of hop varietals drop off pretty quickly, transforming a sublime beer into a mediocre one in a few months (or less).
One exception to this de facto sourcing rule is Commonwealth Brewing in Virginia Beach. They brew some really top-notch IPAs, and they are able to get them to my local bottle shop in a timely manner. Two other things that I like about Commonwealth: they code date their beers (on the bottom of the can) so that you know that it’s fresh, and they generally list the hop varietals on the front of the label, so you know what you’re getting.
My two favorite offerings from Commonwealth are two quite different beers, for all that they are both American IPAs. OG is old-school, brewed with Cascade and Centennial hops, and is full-on bitter, so it’s not one of the ubiquitous juicy fruit-bombs that line the shelves today, although its juice-like turbidity and big mouthfeel are nods to the New England style. Papi Chulo, which translates loosely to “Pimp Daddy” according to the label, is more in keeping with the New England style, although with some perceived bitterness; it has been a winner with every fan of the new style that I have shared it with.
OG – Commonwealth Brewing Co. – Virginia Beach, VA
American IPA, 6.9% ABV
appearance: large fluffy white head, moderately turbid, pale gold
nose: moderate; great blend of florals, perfume, lesser pine, slight alcohol overtones
palate: medium bitterness; pine, modest IPA soapiness, more subdued florals and perfume, very slight caramel
mouthfeel: slightly astringent, biggish for the light/medium body, medium peppery, well-expressed carbonation, moderately creamy feel
Brewed with Cascade and Centennial hops.
Papi Chulo – Commonwealth Brewing Co. – Virginia Beach, VA
American IPA, 6.5% ABV
appearance: medium fluffy white head, moderately turbid, gold
nose: biggish; juicy pineapple, hints of grapefruit and perfume, slight alcohol overtones
palate: pineapple, grassy, bright citrus, modest perceived bitterness, slight caramel
mouthfeel: biggish for the medium body, medium peppery, well-expressed carbonation, slightly astringent, moderately creamy feel
Brewed with Citra, Mosaic & Idaho 7 hops.