“It smells better than it tastes,” said my visiting friend AJ, as she sipped carefully and let her eyes roll around a heap of empty nothingness. Her consideration was fair, though not my first thought. A second opinion could, I had found, been helpful in the midst of late night reviews done for the sake of productivity.
I glanced at the Two Roads Zero 2 Sixty Tart IPA. It did not glance back. Its orange amber hue sat sullenly in the glass, as though it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be, or how to be it. I felt a bit of pity for the thing… some slight compassion. It isn’t every day that a wayward beer from a respected family such as Two Roads falls into your glass without ambition and yet starts off with more vim and vigor than you’d usually expect out of something as common as a variant IPA.
To be sure, this was a variant IPA. By this, I mean an IPA with an attempted twist on it. This one being a “tart” IPA, I chuckled as I thought about English friends handing this clueless girls on soggy pub nights as they waited for one of them to catch on. But none of them would, or did, and thus the story in my mind ended boringly. But more pressingly was the beer.
Upon a smell, familiar notes of very specific hops wafted from the glass and into my memory. Steely, tart and almost metallic hints of a hop I cannot place all drift into and out of focus in the mind’s eye. All of them, teasing and taunting one to recall the last time they encountered it, while the mind itself largely refuses to bother.
The sip as it happens provided very much the same. At least that is, upon the first, second and third sips. As I would find, this beer was one which required a real diving into in order to get a full grasp of what was really going on. Beneath these tangy, slightly metallic notes I soon found an odd sweetness that ran like a sidecar alongside the tartness they were hoping to purvey. It lingered a bit, teasing the tongue just enough to bring forward a genuine juicy sensation that lasted well past the finish.
Texturally, the beer feels heavier than it actually is. Weighty perhaps in flavor to the point where it the feel itself felt enhanced, the beer was one of odd duplicity. At first, not one I really enjoyed but as I drained my glass, one I increasingly liked. One which seemed heavy but upon deeper contemplation, became apparently lighter. One which while seeming sweet, was also tart, but also bitter. I was honestly somewhat confused by this one, but not altogether in a bad way.
At a straight 6.0% ABV, it was clearly not drunkenness which set my critique to wander the desolate lands of confusion. Much rather it was the beer itself. Altogether in a way that I rather liked, but also, wasn’t sure about. Well done Two Roads, you threw me a curve ball.
To the brewers, to the road reference (which I still don’t get) and of course to you I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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