We all heal differently. I wasn't ready to write about beer last week. I knew dozens of people who were in and out of the site of Monday's Boston Marathon bombings, and between work and my personal life, I was consumed with the news for days. I'm lucky not to have loved ones harmed, but many others weren't so fortunate. My heart goes out to anyone affected.
Routine is one of the ways we move on. At some point, going back to the things you love helps you feel better. Notch Brewing's Chris Lohring is a fan of two of the things I love the most. Lohring and I have bonded over basketball and beer, closing down beer festivals with chats about the Celtics, undersized big men, and Jim Calhoun. Neither of us can go left.
Lohring's latest beer is something I was excited to try. Notch brews "session beer", brews low enough in alcohol that you can drink a few of them in one session without being laid up at home with a "Did Not Play: Coach's Decision". Notch has never brewed an IPA. Left of the Dial is their first release of said beer.
IPA is a tricky label. India Pale Ales have come to mean hoppy and boozy. IPAs are sometimes "doubled" without a second thought, approaching 8 or 9 percent alcohol. But the definition of the IPA is not universal. I spent some time in London in the fall and was blown away by IPAs weighing in at 4 and 5 percent. Notch riffs on this tradition, and Lohring doesn't want to call his a "session IPA" when "IPA" encompasses this beer as well as many others and will suffice just fine.
"Current British and American IPAs reflect the wide dynamic of what is considered an IPA," Left of the Dial's label reads. "What side are we on? Left of the dial."
The beer pours an angelic orange with a souffle-like head. There's an intense burst of citrus in the nose. Grapefruit and other citrus remind me of the IPAs I've come to love.
"IPA is an ever-evolving, expanding, and misunderstood beer style," Lohring writes on the label. "And not all IPAs require a nap after consumption."
This one most certainly does not require a pillow. I get lots of bitter hops up front; they quickly fade away to something approachable. The mouthfeel is light, nothing like the syrupy, West Coast IPAs you might be used to. The beer is well balanced, with a smooth malt finish. It's delicious.
Left of the Dial weighs in at 4.3 percent ABV. A 22-ounce bottle retails for a suggested price of $4.99. You're going to like this one.