This week, Westchester’s own Captain Lawrence Brewing Company released its annual triple IPA, Seeking Alpha. It’s a palate-smashing beast of an ale designed for those times when a lesser IPA simply won’t cut it. But rather than just sprinkling irrational amounts of hops on it, and running away, this annual release offers more than just boatloads of bitterness. There is a complexity and drinkability here that could be easily dismissed and even misunderstood — not unlike hopheads themselves. Seeking Alpha demonstrates how there’s so much more to our favorite flower of brewing than meets the tongue. And so craft enthusiasts owe this beer a debt of gratitude, making the world safe, once more, for hopheads. At last, you can emerge from behind the shadows.
OK, so hopheads aren’t really in hiding these days. In fact, they’ve helped pushed the craft pendulum too far in one direction, according to prevailing thought in the industry. But that notion stems from the practice of using the bittering agent ham-handedly to drown out imperfections in lazily brewed beer. In that regard, hops have become the performance-enhancing drug for otherwise mediocre brewers.
The undeniably great IPAs on the market attain cultish status not by simply supercharging their IBUs and alcohol contents, but by harnessing an artful assortment of hops, and propping them up with a suitable quantity of the proper malts. This is the true palate that the IPA artisan has to work with; the Bob Ross of craft brewing, peppering happy little trees atop our taste buds.
Seeking Alpha paints with this brush. Is it bitter? You bet your sweet ass it is. The name of the beer itself is derived from the alpha acids responsible for bitterness. But there’s also a sensational floral component to its aroma, courtesy of a dynamic bouquet of four separate hops, including the power-hitting Citra and Tomahawk. Then there’s that faint two-row malt backbone, teasing out dryness from the discerning tongue. For a beer that is now upwards of 11 percent ABV, it plays unexpectedly well with nuance. Couple that with its limited, annual release, and you’ve got the recipe for a cult craft classic.
Hopheads are encouraged to turn up from their hidden, subterranean lairs and head to their local package shop, where Seeking Alpha is now available in four-pack bottles priced around $14.