Beer of the Month: The Down Low

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Brewery/Brand: Lagunitas Brewing Company
ABV: 3.9%
Serving Style: Draft, 22-oz. bottle

I often have conversations with beer lovers from all over the state with regard to the state of Utah’s craft beer selections. Many have opted out of spending their coins at grocery stores due to low alcohol levels and a poor selection of craft brands. I get it. Variety is the spice of life, and if your needs aren’t being met, you owe it to yourselves to move on and broaden your horizons. However, if you’ve been absent from your local grocery store or Kwik-E-Mart over the last several months, you may not recognize the size and variety of the craft beer section in the beverage aisle. Growing up here in Utah, “small” and “limited” were always synonymous with “beer aisle.” That is no longer the reality. Today’s finer stores now have cavernous beer corridors with craft beer brands taking up half of the real estate—not to mention the out-of-state brands that are now taking up residence on the shelves. One such brand I never thought I’d see in Utah, never mind in a Harmons or Maverik, is Lagunitas Brewing from Petaluma, California. Lagunitas has built a fast reputation around North America for making highly flavorful beers in many varieties. When I found out that the boys and girls of Petaluma were making a beer that’s perfect for Utah’s stores, I had to embrace it.

Description: The Down Low is a Session IPA. It comes in 22-ounce bottles and is also available on tap at various watering holes around the Wasatch Front and Back. This review comes from a draft version. It pours a clear, golden-amber color with a bit of chill haze. The white head is fairly dense and sturdy and has a depth of two fingers at the top of the glass. The foam coats the glass with nice ribbons of lace as I swig it down.

The nose punches my sniffer with those famous Lagunitas hop aromas: big fragrances of grapefruit, melon, peach and tangerine. There is a tiny amount of honey-like malts trying to poke their way through the hoppy, fruit-salad bouquet. For such a light beer, it’s surprisingly aromatic.

The taste starts off with generous amounts of grapefruit, berries and a bit of pineapple. Midway through, toasted bread makes its way forward, providing a bit of a malty balance. The grains provide a nice smack of honey sweetness, which feels lighter on the tongue than would the normal caramel malts. The end of the taste has hops that are more on the herbal and piney side. This dries out the back end, making it quenching and drinkable. The finish is drying with some grassy bitters that are surprisingly non-astringent and pleasant.

There is next to nada by way of warming alcohol, as this thing is a quenching 3.9 percent ABV. Overall, this is an excellent session IPA. Many breweries come into our market thinking that they can just hop the shit out of a watered-down beer and we’ll gratefully accept it. We are not those people, and this is not that beer. It’s all around complex and full of balance. The hops scream “IPA” while the alcohol whispers, “Have another”—I very much enjoyed this offering from Lagunitas.

Cheers!