Jul 7, 2014

Old Bust Head Wildcat IPA

Of all the breweries in the Northern VA area that have been popping up the last year or so, I don’t believe any has moved quite as quickly at Vint Hill’s Old Bust Head. The company has their foot solidly planted on the accelerator in terms of ramping up production, installing their bottling line and distributing their product around the region.

That’s impressive and all, but my first visit on their opening weekend was less so. The two beers that were available for sampling — Wildcat IPA and their much better Bust Head English Pale Ale — tasted nearly identical.

My initial experience was more than likely due to that fact that I had already toured a couple of other local breweries prior to the visit and my tastebuds may not have been in peak order. So, I decided to give the brews another shot after spying freshly shelved six packs of both during a recent beer run.

Wildcat IPA is a 6.2% ABV brew that is made with four different hops (Magnum, Cascade, Liberty, and Saaz) and five different malts, the variety of which are unlisted. The brewery’s website describes the beer as “complex, while still remaining approachable.” Well, they have the approachable portion of that description nailed, but this IPA is far from complex.

Old Bust Head Wildcat IPA photo


The brew pours amber in color with a solid cap of tawny foam that fell to a full ring.


Grain, bread, light caramel and distant, grassy hops comprise the faint aroma.


Much like the nose, the flavors are also pretty muted. Grassy hops and bready, caramel malt combine for an overall subtle flavor profile that also feels a bit imbalanced. There’s a low-to-moderate hop bite and a crisp mouthfeel.


I’m all for subtlety in beer, but for an IPA, I personally want more flavor than Wildcat IPA has to offer. Yes, it’s approachable and, knowing the area around the brewery, I think it will still perform well, but there are much better IPAs in Virginia. The company’s Bust Head English Pale Ale (review tomorrow) on the other hand… now that’s a pretty darn good beer.

Rating: 2.75/5

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