In 2003, Pop The Cap began lobbying efforts to raise the ABV limit on beer in North Carolina from a stodgy 6%, promising the state legislature that if the ABV limit was raised to a reasonable level, North Carolina would become a craft beer mecca.
The state legislature passed a bill raising the ABV cap from 6% to a lofty 15%, and it was signed into law by then-Governor Mike Easley on August 13th, 2005. Pop The Cap’s prediction proved prescient. North Carolina has become a craft beer tourist destination.
Great beer is everywhere in NC. The major metro centers— Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill— are awash in great craft breweries. Breweries dot the smaller cities as well as the rural landscape. And the oddball east/west anchors of the state— Asheville in the mountains and Wilmington on the coast— are positive hotbeds of craft beer activity.
And in Wilmington, New Anthem is commonly considered to make some of the best IPAs in the region, particularly of the hazy, fruity, low-perceived-bitterness New England style. “Commonly held to be,” and with good reason, as their beers are generally fantastic, and they do have a particular knack for NEIPAs.
Recently they released pint cans of a pair of great IPAs that are actually quite different, and that showcase their skills with completely different takes on the wildly-popular India Pale Ale.
Rusty Cage – New Anthem Beer Project – Wilmington, NC
American IPA, 5.7% ABV
look: extra large head (pour carefully); turbid, gold body; fair blotches and swoops of lacing
nose: medium intensity: leads with cotton candy, pineapple; backed by deeper candy-like notes and grapefruit, modest grassiness, lesser florals, and very slight alcohol overtones
palate: up front: moderately bitter, medium-grassy pineapple; mid-palate: modest grassiness and candy-like herbals emerge, hint of nutty malt; back: grassiness more prominent, malt shows a bit more; finish: clean; linger: moderately bitter grassy pine; retrogustative olfaction: modestly grassy
mouthfeel: medium peppery, well-expressed carbonation, medium creamy, light-medium mouthfeel that fits the body, slightly astringent
overall: An IPA that verges into session territory without suffering significantly in terms of flavor or mouthfeel. Well-executed, as always. About 50/50 NE/WC.
water, pale malt, oats, Carahell malt
Centennial, Citra hops
Perpetual Outrage – New Anthem Beer Project – Wilmington, NC
American IPA, 7.2% ABV
look: giant creamy white head (pour carefully); clear, deep gold body; nice bands and ladders of lacing
nose: moderate intensity: leads with grassy candy and grapefruit, backed by sweetish herbals and more subtle florals, hints of cannabis and alcohol
palate: up front: nicely bitter, slightly grassy grapefruit; mid-palate: herbals, candy-like notes emerge and malt shows a bit with hints of florals; finish: fairly clean, hint of caramel malt and booze; linger: moderate bitter pine and grapefruit; retrogustative olfaction: faintly grassy/candylike
mouthfeel: fairly astringent, medium peppery, slightly creamy, well-expressed carbonation; medium mouthfeel.
overall: A very nice, clean, fairly dry West Coast-style IPA with a satisfying level of bitterness; driven more by herbs-and-spice than by fruit.
water, 2-row malt, Carahell malt, Carapils malt
Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, Simcoe hops