North Coast Brewing Co. - ACME IPA


More often than not, I consider an unknown India Pale Ale with a sideways glance. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like hoppy beer as much as the next guy. It’s just that I feel there is a line that many breweries cross when making their hop-bombs. It’s a delicate balance between a strong, characteristic hop flavor and just shoving your face into a big ol’ bucket of hop resin. However, when a beer can retain its drinkability while remaining as hoppy as the Easter Bunny, that’s when you have a good IPA. In searching for such a beer, I looked towards North Coast Brewing Co., makers of some well-knowns like Old Rasputin Stout and Brother Thelonious Abbey Ale.

I was immediately drawn in by the 40s pinup girl on the bottle and the sometimes-reputable name ACME, hoping that a beer bearing that name would be better than a pair of rocket skates or giant slingshot. The 6.9% ABV wasn’t too shabby either. I was eager to try this one out, so I decided to make a night of it and pair it with dinner. The website was a little vague on what went into the beer, other than a whole pound of fresh hops per barrel, but they did have a food pairing suggestion. Fish tacos with citrus salsa and cabbage slaw was the inspiration, but the end product was this tasty little spinach salad with blackened catfish and a mango-lime salsa. Hungry yet?

The beer is a hazy and light orange, with a nice fluffy white head. The nose was predictably hoppy, with a bit of citrus and a nice airy yeast scent. I also caught a bit of a funk, but I am unsure if the culprit is simply age. No date-stamp on the bottle, a handy thing when choosing an IPA. Wasn’t very permeating, or even unpleasant. The first taste was straight up pine. It’s not much to get past though, and I didn’t go into an IPA and expect it not to be hop-forward. Upon closer inspection, the hops are balanced with a very enjoyable floral malt and some fruity flavors. The feel is very dry and refreshing, not too bubbly, and doesn’t leave that bitter, mouth-coating tang that some IPAs impart. Additionally, the food pairing was spot on. The bold hops were a good counter to the subtle catfish and mango salad, but didn’t overpower it.

It looks like North Coast has maintained its track record with me. This may not be up to snuff with the most hardcore of hop-addicts, but it more than satisfies my requirements. It’s got a good level of complexity, character, and is very drinkable. I’ll be putting this particular beer into my (admittedly thin) Rolodex of favorite IPAs.

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