I first found out about Red Hook through, of all places, Buffalo Wild Wings. They have a beer called Game Changer, that has been created just for BW3s, apparently. Anyway, a little while after I first tried that brew, I found another one on my weekly beer run. It’s an IPA by the name of Long Hammer. Sounds quite stoic. I like it. But, enough with the talking, let’s go drink.
Upon cracking the cap, notes of grapefruit and fresh pine burst forward, bringing that crisp, citrus peel bitterness of an IPA. Hops pour out, enveloping the nose and popping up through the other scents. There are notes of sweet, tropical fruits that cut through the bitterness slightly, but the major offerings are potent pine and citrus peel.
The first tastes bring up the same notes from the aroma. Citrus peel and pine bitterness mingle with malty bread notes. It’s your standard IPA body. Slightly dry, bitter, with those fleeting bits of sweetness that dance around the tongue, teasing and making false promises of becoming full-bodied notes, only to disappear before taking full shape. This beer offers tropical fruit sweetness-passion fruit and pineapple, drawing only from the bitter tangs of each though, with just the slightest hints of sweet. It’s a crisp flavor that doesn’t offer any innovation or much in the way of wow, but it’s a rocksteady flavor profile that doesn’t detract from the usual IPA hoppiness.
Poured into a pint glass, crisp floral notes rise up for the shortest of moments, diminishing almost immediately, offering just a shadow of their former bottle potency. After a second or two of almost no aromas at all, bitter citrus and pine returns to the nose, sluggish at first, but fleeting after making an appearance. These notes rise up from a shimmering, golden ale that sits beneath a thin white head. As the light strikes the glass, it casts a warm, golden glow that looks quite healthy.
Once poured, the tastes are similar to the bottle notes. Citrusy grapefruit crispness and bitter pine lead the charge, with a stronger sweet rush behind. Poured, the sweet notes do a better job balancing the bitterness than straight from the bottle. There is also a surprising appearance from some peach notes, of all things, adding a subtle, sweet tang that works quite well with the other notes. It cuts through the bitterness, lasting on the tongue longer than the dry pine, leaving the lingering taste to be enjoyable. The sweetness hangs out on the front of the tongue, while the bitter notes reside at the sides and the back.
In the end, it’s a standard American IPA, offering nothing that hasn’t been done before. It has a decent taste, with citrus and pine bitterness, slightly managed by sweet, tropical fruit notes that open up quite a bit when poured. The taste is pleasant, but nowhere near the best IPA I’ve ever tried. I wished more of the sweet notes could have been present, both in strength and duration. It would have broken from the traditional IPA mould, but it would have also presented a different take on the tried and true. I would advise to drink this slowly, as drinking it too fast will eliminate any chances to find the sweet notes that I loved so much. It was fairly cheap, at just $7 for a six-pack. For a “craft” beer, that’s a bit on the low side, but, you do apparently get what you pay for.
I would suggest drinking this beer during a football party, where a lot of beer is needed, but you want to avoid the terrible go-to macro choices. You would also do well enjoying this with some wings. The piney, dry bitterness would go well to cutting through some of the spicier sauces.
Overall, Red Hook’s Long Hammer IPA isn’t anything new, or spectacular, or particularly tasty. It’s not horrible, but it’s nothing to write home about. It earns a middle of the road B-.
Lasting Strength: 8/10
Overall: 8/10 B-