Beer Review: Zero Gravity’s Madonna IIPA

I’m into IPAs just like the rest of the world, but I like them to be balanced. IPAs that are too aggressively hopped seem like they’re trying to cover something up. It’s easy to hide low qual ingredients or beer flaws with more hops. Anyone can do that. But brewing IPAs that are balanced, where hops play nice with malts and the flavor is big, but not overwhelming? That’s an art. So, while perusing the beer shelves at AJ’s (the best beer store in town), I picked up Zero Gravity’s Madonna IIPA because of the label, but am returning to it because of its balance in flavor.

The Beer

When you open a can of Madonna you get that tried and true dank hoppy aroma that is a mark of the New England style. But if you give it a chance to hang out in a glass, the beer aroma develops into an understated mix of bright citrus, sweet grain, and boozy notes. It’s not going to bowl you over, but it will give you an idea of the pleasant experience yet to come. Flavor-wise, you get a big hoppy taste full of citrus, lemon, and somewhat spicy notes to start, quickly followed by some light malty sweetness that doesn’t take away from the hoppy-ness, but keeps it in check. I think his beer is very sippable, but don’t be fooled, its 8% ABV can sneak up on you before you know it.

Making friends: pairing beer & food

This beer is great on its own. period. However, food is always on my mind, so below are some thoughts on pairing ideas based on foods that can stand up to the bigger flavors in an IIPA or that have enough fat and salt to cut through the hop bitterness and alcohol. Consider this:

  • Aged Cheddar
  • Blue Cheese
  • Chili (make sure the chili isn’t too spicy because the hops will accentuate the spice)
  • Sautéed brussel sprouts and bacon
  • BBQ
  • Charcuterie
  • Beef Stew

Beer Profile

STYLE: Double IPA           MALT: Pilsner, American Wheat        HOPS: Citra, Motueka, El Dorado

YEAST: House Ale             APPEARANCE: Hazy Gold                   IBU: 90                          ABV: 8.0%