The beer today hails from the most “Northern” Southern city, Atlanta, Georgia.  The ol’ ATL is the city that gave us the rapper Ludachris, the previously game-changing but currently terrible Adult Swim programming block, and my favorite comedian David Cross.  Plenty of good entertainment has come from or otherwise passed through the 404 area code, but what of beer, perhaps the ultimate entertainment?  There are a few craft brewers in and around the city, but not one so eye-capturing and further distributed than Sweetwater Brewing Co.  Usually emblazoned with a big Rainbow Trout in mid catch, there are definitely some solid beers coming from their fermentation vats.  There are a good share of bombers and special-release things in their catalog, but their two main year-round beers are their Exodus Porter and their simply named IPA.  The IPA has a very surprising “excellent” rating on rateBeer at 97/100 at the time of this writing, putting it right up there with some of the big name best IPAs in the world.

Let’s get a little background on this IPA, shall we?  According to their website, this brew is “loaded with intense hop character and subjected to an extensive dry-hopping process. Our IPA is unfiltered and as always, not pasteurized, leaving all the natural flavors intact.”  Unfiltered IPAs have always been my favorite of the two options, it seems that filtering will not only remove a good portion of hop bitterness, but also will strip the remaining character away from it.  It’s like the difference between that super thick, fancy organic whole milk and your average, watery non-fat.  I just can’t drink that thin stuff, the same reason why a beer or whisky will taste all weird and off when it’s diluted.  There’s something to that in IPAs, I think because the brewer will be privy to the whole brewing and hopping process, tasting it and getting it right until it’s pushed through a filter and had something leave it.
Now the beer itself may be belying it’s own craftsmanship.  I mean, a small 12oz bottle doesn’t exactly scream “97 Points”, but beer is so often difficult to judge by label.  It pours a murky amber, very light and watery, with just a bit of quickly escaping foam.  The head of an IPA has never really been a point of interest as much as a porter or stout head, but whatevs.  The scent is quick to let you know that it isn’t your average IPA.  Even at slightly-colder-than-I-prefer temperature, it was giving off a ton of malty sweetness right along with piney and citrusy hops.  Sticking to just Columbus and Goldings hops won’t give you much complexity, but unfiltered is the way to get the most out of them.  The taste is more of the same, but with a definite third party of floral notes.  The sweet malt is a great backing, but the hops are of course the key players.  It’s a darned good solid IPA, so indicative of the style that true adherents must have had no qualms about giving it such a high rating.