Soaking Up the Suds with James Crane

Happy New Year, everyone!
I’m sure you’re knee-deep in resolutions to make a better you. I’m all for it. Run that marathon. Eat better. Learn krav maga. Kick all the ass and take all the names. Go ahead and be that best possible version of yourself. Hip-hip-hooray and all that. I wish you luck, since the deck is stacked against you.
What do I mean? It’s almost criminal that the new year starts in January. You’re expected to make all these wondrous self transformations in the midst of the coldest and darkest part of the year. December isn’t much better, but at least it has all those festive holidays. What does January have? Well, after New Year’s Day, just the ever-present possibility of snow, long nights and short days. Sure, have fun with that.
Of course, I’ve restarted my efforts on the requisite number of pushups and all that. The endorphins are great. But I’ll sip some strong brews to pass time this month as well. This is the perfect time of year for something big and warming at the end of the day, and preferably something thick and chewy. It’s like the comfort food of alcohol.
For me, normally this means a stout, barley wine or something else of that type with dark, thick character. This week, however, I stick with my old fallback: an IPA. The heavy hops are like an alcoholic lullaby for my soul that I have trouble ignoring. This particular brew, Gus by Full Pint brewing, promises an 8 percent ABV, exactly what I want.
The pour was beautiful with a lovely, hazy, golden orange and copious bubbles that continued to surge upward, providing bountiful carbonation. The head was the real prize winner, however. It must have been a full two fingers’ worth of foam, and it never really dissipated. Thick lacing lined the glass all the way down. It was quite impressive.
Pine tree makes up the biggest part of the scent. Whatever hops are in there smell like a distant cousin of pine needles and sap. Then there are the chlorophyll-filled scents of fresh-cut grass and other floral-type notes. Orange-like citrus brightens it up, while some biscuity malt keeps it grounded.
The taste certainly is IPA through and through, though it’s more pine and sap than bitter. The bitterness shows up at the end to round it out, however, accompanied by some black pepper and held together by the caramel-malt backbone. Even the bitter is citrusy, though, like a grapefruit. A slight bit of alcoholic burn turns up at the end, just enough to remind you that you are drinking a boozy beer.
Gus isn’t super unique, but it is quite good. A smooth drink, it goes down quite well, which is great for a beer of this caliber. It lays nicely on the tongue and is delightfully warming, with the hops providing that nice, sedating effect of an IPA.
This is a great brew to sip before bed, almost like the alcoholic equivalent of a cup of chamomile tea. Gus does everything I want it to and does so tastily. I think I’ll go to sleep now. I can get back to those resolutions tomorrow.

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