There are a few rare places in this country where the weight of human history bears down upon the present, squeezing through the years and becoming intertwined with everyday life. Walking through a place like that, you might turn a corner and find yourself transported hundreds of years into the past where everything around you – the buildings, the smells, the people, and the feeling – are right out of a history book. Many of those places are associated with positive events of historical significance and impart a feeling of pride in their association. But there are other places, dark places, where you know immediately once you set foot there that you don’t belong, are not wanted, and should not be there. Back alleys with dim lights, unsavory people, and bad juju that scream trespass to anyone not invited.
This beer is one of those places.
I find that a lot of IPA’s tend to get lost in the shuffle. Any style can become overdone, and many decent beers get lost in the crowd, leading to grandstanding and taglines to stand out. Some go for over the top hops, grabbing your attention with bitterness. Some have a gimmick, such as an unusual spice addition or a punny name. Others resign themselves to being what they are – just another beer.
Somehow, Boulder Beer has managed to avoid all the clichés and end up with an incredible, memorable IPA. The flavor of the Mojo is spot on. It’s brewed with Amarillo hops, and it’s pretty apparent – this is a citrusy, grapefruity beer. It hits you up front with great bite that is exacerbated by the strong carbonation, smooths out to get you that delicious grapefruit taste, and then drops off the shelf into the depths of bitterness. But after that bitterness comes what intrigues me most about this beer – the taste, the mouthfeel, the overall impression is that this is an old beer. It knows something you don’t, and it comes through in the earthy, musty, swampy flavor that lingers for some time after your last taste. Immediately after my first sip, I felt as if I’d walked into the wrong bar in the back alleys of New Orleans and was handed this beer by a creepy, wily looking Cajun bartender. Halfway through the beer, I felt like I was drinking something that wasn’t meant for me – it was as if I was out of my territory involved in something dangerous and disturbing. By the time I was finished, I was sitting on an overstuffed red couch surrounded by fabric draped walls, cigarette smoke, and unknown back alley deals. I felt as if I’d been in the presence of some powerful voodoo left over from hundreds of years of people practicing black magic that had somehow seeped into the essence of this beer.
I realize Boulder is in Colorado, but no one can convince me they didn’t get some old wizened bayou priestess to help them infuse the flair of The Big Easy into this brew.