May 17, 2012

Roanoke Railhouse Brewery Railhouse IPA

Roanoke Railhouse IPA

I don’t normally post reviews of beer that I’m not at all impressed with on this site. It was an unwritten law within my own little brain to not take shots at breweries that were just starting out and still tweaking their recipes. That mental mantra was formulated back in 2006 when this site was first conceived. A lot has changed since then in the craft beer world. There are now more breweries than ever vying for my attention and my hard earned dollar. Not every brewery that’s popping up like crazy now is going to produce good beer — it’s just not possible.

So, with that said, here we go.

I’m all about supporting local breweries, so when I saw this bottle of Railhouse IPA and the much better Caboose (review coming tomorrow) on the shelves a couple of weeks ago, I quickly picked them up. According to the company’s website, this 7.0% ABV (and 82 IBU) IPA is brewed with six different hop varieties (Centennial, Chinook, CTZ, Millennium, Willamette and Summit) in a “hopburst” process. I’m not entirely sure what a ‘hopburst” is or what its purpose is with regard to the beer, but if its intention was to add an odd smoke-like character to the flavor profile then it worked perfectly. This beer looks and smells great, but when it comes to the most important aspect (the flavor) it goes terribly wrong.


Railhouse IPA pours a copper in color with a dense, off-white head that was quite resilient.


Caramel malt, pine resin, tangerine, orange rind and other citrus fruits fill the nose wonderfully.


It took me a long while to figure out what was off with this beer’s flavor. I made it through a third of the bomber before realizing that, for some odd reason, there was an acrid smoke within it’s hoppy depths — a burnt “something” flavor that lingered horribly after each swallow. The hop notes are pretty standard with plenty of citrusy fruit and pine, but it’s nearly impossible to get past that off-putting character. I love a good rauchbier, but I don’t think that was the brewer’s intentions with this IPA.


I really hope that this was just a bad batch of beer. Perhaps the malt used was smoked too long or the equipment wasn’t clean — something to explain the off character. I never aim to deride a beer, but this one’s recipe could use some work or improved quality control as reviews elsewhere appear quite favorable. I might pick up another bottle as it wasn’t all that pricy just to see if it was a bad bottle, but then again, maybe not.


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