When done well, a session IPA is a full-flavored, hoppy beer that doesn’t weigh you down or wreck your palate. The problem is few breweries can achieve robust flavor without the help of a full-throated alcohol punch. Notch Brewing does not have this problem. The Salem, Massachusetts beer-maker focuses on low-alcohol styles from England, Germany and Austria, and it’s first-ever IPA, Left of the Dial, came in at 4.3% ABV.
Pouring Left of the Dial into a glass yields a golden-to-bronze color with a finger-wide foamy head that disappears quickly and laces the glass. It’s much lighter than the similar beer, from the like of Founders Brewing Co. and Firestone Walker Brewing Co., that dominate this style, with a restrained amount of carbonation that effervesces from the bottom of the glass.
Citra and Mosaic hops dominate the nose, with huge aromas of grapefruit, orange zest and orange flesh bursting forth. Notch’s website eludes to passionfruit and stone fruits, but they are not detected at any point in the scent or sip.
Left of the Dial is a delightful beer for all seasons.”
Left of the Dial’s flavor follows the nose closely. It opens with grapefruit, before blending with orange zest and subtle hints of pine. As it warms, the pine becomes more pronounced. The citrus and pine carry through to the end, like a West Coast-style IPA. There is a moderate amount of bitterness, but not so much that it offends your tastebuds.
Notch’s founder and head brewer Chris Lohring once wrote on this beer’s label that, "IPA is an ever-evolving, expanding and misunderstood beer style. And not all IPAs require a nap after consumption." It’s almost a mission statement for this brewery’s beers, which pay tribute to the lower-ABV styles regularly found throughout Europe. Left of the Dial is a delightful beer for all seasons—crushable during the summer months and a diversion during the cold weather when you need a break from the barrel-aged stuff.