Monday, November 12, 2007

Independence Jasperilla Old Ale

Did you ever have a beer that you just couldn't decide whether you liked it? I know, maybe that sounds kind of weird – either you like it or not, right? But I can't really decide on this one.

Jasperilla is an "old ale," a high-alcohol, full-bodied style. This particular variety is produced by Independence Brewing, an Austin beermaker that I reluctantly confess has never really impressed me. I had high hopes that they were going to prove me wrong with this bold brew, which they debuted last year in bars and just started putting in 22 oz. bombers this year.

Now, I'm not one to be afraid of high-alcohol beers, nor am I afraid of bitterness. But every sip of this has a flavor that kind of makes me screw up my face and wince. Notes of too-ripe fruit, heavy on the raisins. Way back in high school – admittedly, before I had developed a palate for good beers – I tried an English brew named Bombardier's Ale that had the same effect, and this reminds me very much of that.

That said, the flavor is growing on me – but only a little. It's like I'm getting multiple flavor notes, some that agree with me, some that don't. Ultimately, I just don't know if I can learn to love a beer that has me alternating between licking my lips and shuddering. I'd rather just lick my lips, period. If Independence is shooting for the same style as North Coast's Old Stock Ale or the stuff from the Saint Arnold Divine Reserve series, I'll take the latter two instead.

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