Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Heavy Handed IPA

Two Brothers Brewing Company
Warrenville, IL

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Greetings and salutations, fellow Beer Dorks. It's time once again for another craft IPA review from your resident Hophead, Sir Nigel (notice that Hophead is with a capital "H", as it is an official title for those of us who believe that bitter is better). Some of you are probably asking by now, "Nigel, don't all these craft IPA's start to taste the same after awhile"? Well...for the most part no, as I am a connoisseur of the style. Do Wine Dorks who prefer Merlots ever say that they all taste the same? Hell no. And being a Beer Dork is just like being a Wine Dork, except not as gay (kidding--Nigel appreciates fine wine as much as the next heterosexual guy). I will say, however, that when it comes to IPA's there is a pretty large grouping of what I call "good but not great" brews pretty much all taste the same. Loyal Nigelheads may remember my review from a few months back for Sand Creek's Wild Ride IPA. As I said at the time, it was a brew that was a perfect example of what a decent craft IPA should taste like, but did absolutely nothing to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack--no unique characteristics that placed it in the upper echelon, despite being a very good beer. Other IPA's I have sampled also fall into this category--Goose Island, Harbor City, Sierra Nevada, and Summit come to mind immediately. I will now add another to this category--Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA.

First of all, I must say that Two Brothers' version of the IPA was quite a bit milder than I was expecting. Perhaps this is my fault, as my expectations may have been too high after Santa brought Nigel a bomber of Hop Juice, Two Brothers' version of the Imperial IPA, for a Beer Dorks Christmas. The Hop Juice was, well...stupid hoppy, but it was by no means the best Imperial IPA I've ever had. It was one of those Imperials was so overloaded with hops you really couldn't tell if it was a good beer or not because your tongue stopped working after the third sip. It was, however, a ballsy attempt, so I figured the Heavy Handed would be a powerful IPA, perhaps a more rounded version of the Hop Juice, with less hops and more flavor, maybe along the lines of Victory's Hop Devil. Not so, my friends, as Heavy Handed turned out to be a somewhat wussy IPA.

Alas, this is by no means a bad beer--on the contrary, it is quite tasty, just not anything special. The keyword here is typical--as in everything about this beer is typical of your standard, run-of-the-mill craft IPA. It pours a deep golden brown color, with mild head that quickly dissipates, leaving only a slight off-white lace. The smell is indicitive of the brew--good hop aroma, but not very strong and very simple. The taste is good--it's a crisp, clean IPA, not very complicated, with a slight sweet caramel malt coming through on the initial sip which is quickly overtaken by the piney, somewhat bitter hop overtones. The bitterness is fairly tempered compared to what it can be for the style, not surprising with a relatively low abv (5.7%) for an IPA. It's a medium-bodied brew, not overwhelming, and certainly not as complex as good craft IPA's can be. It could be considered a session brew, though Nigel has tasted better IPA's that he would categorize as such over this particular version. All in all, another solid craft IPA, but far from spectacular, and when you are a professional Hophead like Nigel, spectacular is always what you're shooting for.

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on January 25, 2007.
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