Judge Juicy – 7% ABV
Ghost Train Brewing Co. (Birmingham, Alabama)
Judge Juicy pours a hazy golden color with little head and no retention. It leaves behind delicate lacing at the top of the glass.
With a name like Judge Juicy, I honestly expected this beer to hit me with a mild bitterness and lots of citrus overtones. But that’s not what I got.
The scent of the beer is definitely citrus with a bite of hops. The taste is almost the opposite.
This beer hits the front of your tongue with a bitterness I’d expect of a typical American IPA, as opposed to a New England IPA. (While this one is described as “hazy” and not “New England,” the addition of “juicy” to the name makes me think this is the style they were going for). The bitterness is subtle, though, and doesn’t stick around.
As you continue to drink the beer, you can feel the sweetness of the New England IPA style come through. It doesn’t boot the bitterness, but it can overtake some sips on the beer, making them sweeter and smoother than others.
The beer has an easy mouthfeel with little carbonation, and its taste does not give off the 7 percent ABV.
Despite what may sound like criticism, I’d 100 percent purchase this beer again.
I came into the world of IPAs with Hopsecutioner, and I’ll be damned before I critique a beer for being too bitter. And anyhow, Judge Juicy doesn’t even approach that realm. Sips transition between a mellow dry hop to a smooth, sweet citrus and back again, which makes this beer feel perfect for the 45 degree March weather we’ve been having in Birmingham.
Overall rating: 4.5/5
What I learned:
I didn’t have many reference points on this particular beer, but it did lead me to learn more about New England IPAs. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t crazy for not immediately describing Judge Juicy as a “juice bomb,” so I did my research.
According to this post from Beer & Brewing Magazine, New England IPAs can be expected to have higher protein malts, fruit-forward hops and restrained bitterness. They also utilize dry-hopping and a few other technical brewing techniques that I’m not super familiar with.
While reading through the post, I can note a full and creamy mouthfeel (mentioned under “Style Guidelines,” but I don’t get the “soft and pillowy.” With those descriptors, my mind shoots over to more head and probably more retention. I also saw a note of “tropical fruit esters,” which I did not catch, but another Bham local mentioned notes of Mango on UnTappd. Maybe I just need to work on cyphering those tastes out?