Sometimes you find a friend who reaches out and touches your heart. Sometimes you find a friend who ships you beer. Luckily, I have the beer shipping kind of friend in Paul Hjorten. Paul was traveling for work recently, and stumbled across the Schlafly (How cool is that? They have a guy in a Utilikilt on their site!) brewery in St Louis. (Actually, I imagine the stumbling came later…) He was quite impressed with their beer. He sent me a photo of their fermenting tanks via a text message, but I am not clever enough to get that image into this post. That was not good enough, though. He then proceeded to have a six pack of Schlafly American Pale Ale shipped directly to my house. I then began to receive enigmatic text messages (Paul likes to text) about ‘something’ coming from St Louis. Well, sadly, the first shipment was damaged in shipping. I am imagining a UPS driver ‘accidentally’ dropping the package and feeling obliged to test each bottle for damage by opening and emptying same. After finishing his route, to be sure. Anyway, I was on my way home last Friday night, thinking about the beers I have in my beer fridge and lamenting that I was pretty sure there were no IPAs in there. Not that I would be left high and dry, mind you, but I was in the mood for an IPA. Within moments of getting home, my wife informed me that I had received a sixer of beer from St Louis, and it was chilling in the fridge right then! Sweet! I cracked one right away and enjoyed it thoroughly with a delicious home-cooked dinner. It is a very nice, well-balanced beer. Allow me to elaborate.
The first hint of aroma I got from this APA was citrusy hops, followed closely by a nice malt profile. The malts were restrained, but noticeable, with grainy and caramel notes and a hint of biscuit. The hops were fairly bold, starting out citrusy and then going to a floral and herbal finish. There was a clear smell of fruitiness, not really strong, but noticeable. I kind of wished the aroma was a little stronger, being dry-hopped and all, but I probably should have been more patient and let the beer warm up a little longer out of the fridge. I rated the aroma at 9 of 12.
The appearance of this beer is beautiful. It is a strong golden color, with a beautiful, long-lasting head that leaves very nice lace. The head is a smooth, very fine bubbled ivory with nice flavor. I always figure if a beer has good flavor in the foam, it will have great flavor in the beer. I have never seen this to fail. Try it if you don’t believe me. I dare you. Anyway, I wish the form let me score more than three for appearance. I gave this beer 3+ of 3.
With my first sip of this 5.9% beer I noticed a very nice balance between hops and malts, with the hops coming out on top, but not pounding the malts to smithereens. The malt flavor held up with nice grainy, caramel and biscuit notes. The hops ran around with more of the citrus, at first, then floral and herbal tastes that were apparent in the aroma, with the fruitiness coming in a little stronger. It started off with a fairly bitter hoppiness, settling to a smoothness of malt, for a fairly balanced, but slightly more hoppy flavor. Very nice. I gave the flavor 17 of 20.
It has a fairly big body for an APA, coating the mouth nicely. The carbonation is low to middling, with very fine bubbles, almost like champagne bubbles. The alcohol warmth is there, but not at all overpowering and the creaminess is reminiscent of a nice silky stout. I gave the mouthfeel 5 of 5.
My overall impression is that this is a delicious beer, highly accurate to the APA style as defined by the BJCP that I would happily recommend to anyone seeking a refreshing pale ale. I gave the overall impression 10 of 10 for a total score of 44 of 50. That score is the highest in the ‘Excellent’ range, and if the + I put on the appearance counted for points it would be ‘Outstanding.’
If you can find a Schlafly APA around, grab it up and give it a try. If you can’t, well, I guess you either gotta fly to St Louis or start hanging out with Paul and cross your fingers. Hey – it worked for me.