Full disclosure--I don't really like the typical American IPA much. By typical, I don't mean the formal style guidelines that place IPA's around 6.5% alcohol, but instead refer to that fact that IPA extremity has become an arms race in the U.S., with so many craft brewers pile on hops and gravity like an unsupervised kid at the breakfast table uses syrup and powdered sugar on pancake day. American craft brewers have long acted as if there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. Works great with syrup until you get diabetes, and with hops until you're sweating hop oil. Though I have to admit that this activity helped launch the craft brew revolution in the U.S., and for that I am thankful.

So when I say that Compass IPA is good, I do so despite my heavy bias against the style.

Compass IPA by Bristol Brewing
Credit: cidersage

Compass has plenty of bitterness, but it is not face-melting like the IPA products of Stone and Dogfish Head. Surprisingly, given the consisten bitterness of the flavor, there is not a lot of hop arome there, with the exception of a big, initial whiff of pinewhen opening and pouring it. This si a bit unfortunate as I like an IPA that smells like a pine tree...just not one that tastes like one. My guess is they hop this a lot in the initial boil for bitterness but that they don't add much in the way of hops late in the boil or dry-hop it, either of which would add more hop aroma without more bitterness. Though it's possible that they do both of these things and my palate just isn't picking it up.

The play-it-safe, keep-it-balanced approach which Bristol appears to bring to its beers saves this IPA for me--as it does for Laughing Lab, their Scottish ale), keeping it drinkable and refreshing when it would otherwise just be too much.

See below for other Bristol reviews:

Laughing Lab

Beehive Honey Wheat

Mass Transit Ale

Compass IPA by Bristol Brewing cidersage 2013-09-08 3.0 0 5