Reviewed: Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine IPA
Official description: This lupulin-ladin India Pale Ale is packed with juicy tropical fruit character, bright floral aromas and delectable layers of hop flavor. Pour mindfully, inhale deeply and enjoy a tropical vacation in a glass. Always store cold, enjoy fresh and stay cool!
Lawson’s Finest Liquids – Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine IPA – 16oz can served in stemless snifter – 8% ABV
Last year, I finally made the pilgrimage up to Lawson’s Finest Liquids (Waitsfield, VT). On my previous Vermont beer trip in 2014, Lawson’s didn’t have much of a tasting room to visit. Now, they have a state-of-the-art, absolutely gorgeous brewhouse that is a sight to behold. This new facility just celebrated its first anniversary. In addition to the main tasting room with high ceilings, a stonework fireplace, and exposed wood rafters, they have a gift shop with a color-coordinated beer fridge where you can grab cans to go.
Sip of Sunshine is Lawson’s flagship beer. Due I’m sure to heavy demand, Lawson’s has the beer contract brewed out of Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut. Here’s some additional information from the brewery’s website: “Our Sip of Sunshine IPA is brewed by Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Stratford, CT at Two Roads Brewing and it will continue to be produced at that location. Sip of Sunshine is a beer inspired by the original Double Sunshine IPA, brewed in Vermont (previously in Warren, now at our new brewery in Waitsfield). They have recipes with distinct differences in the hops, specialty malts, and water source for the beer, yet they share a similar juicy, tropical fruit character and a floral aroma that jumps from the glass!” Super Session #7, which I reviewed last year, is also brewed out of Two Roads.
I’m sampling Sip of Sunshine from a six-pack of 16oz cans that I picked directly from Lawson’s for $15. These were about a week old at the time of review. Into my glass, Sip O’ is a glowing orange-gold color with slight haziness and towering, cream-colored foam that rises over the rim. Hawaiian bread rolls, apricot, Mandarin orange, and peaches & cream combine for one enticing aroma. It’s a dynamic nose moving from pomelo zest one minute to ambrosia fruit salad the next.
The flavor leans much closer to clear, West Coast IPA than hazy New England-style IPA. (RateBeer, for instance, has this categorized as New England-style.) Sip O’ is sharp and powerfully bitter – punching hard with spicy citrus rind, apricot skins, and resinous alpha acids. It’s malty and dense, too, with tons of buttery cake to offset the bitterness. Perhaps most impressive is the rich nuttiness and fattiness to the mouthfeel. The palate is just exquisite: oily and coating with intense resinous hops cutting through and lingering there for an aggressive, powerful finish. And even with all this, I still found Double Sunshine to be somehow thicker-bodied and juicier. That just goes to show you how outrageously tasty these two beers are.
Perceived Specs for Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine IPA
Though contract brewed in Connecticut, Sip of Sunshine still lives up to the hype. It tastes closer to 7% in my opinion and shares hardly anything with most other Double IPAs, which tend to be sticky, boozy, and harshly bitter. The more time I spent with this beer, the more I’m convinced that it should be considered an American classic like its West Coast counterpart, Pliny the Elder.
Sip of Sunshine is similar in many ways to Russian River’s Pliny the Elder. It’s categorized as a Double IPA, but at 8.0% it just barely slides into the style. It matches up closely to the best clear IPAs out there – far-flung from the sticky, boozy side of typical DIPAs. Think more along the lines of Pizza Port Swami’s.
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