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Beer Review: Aspen Brewing Company’s Independence Pass Ale

This brew is both a hoppy bomb and a surprisingly flavorful IPA that begs to be paired with food. 

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Independence Pass Ale, Aspen Brewing Company, Aspen

Style: IPA

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Serving Type: 12-ounce can

ABV: 7 percent

Hop Meter (1–10): 9

Malt Meter (1–10): 4

Reviewed: August 2015

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Colorado brewers deserve plenty of praise for crafting clever beer names. So we must give extra credit points to Aspen Brewing’s Independence Pass Ale, which pays homage to one of the Centennial State’s most iconic points—the near-to-Aspen pass is at an elevation of 12,095 feet—and cleverly spells out the initials of the brew’s style.

The double-duty name is apt for a brew that is both a hoppy bomb—brewed with Palisade, Columbus, Cascade, and Simcoe hops—and a surprisingly flavorful IPA. This brew pours a dark amber color that is reminiscent of the leather on a new basketball. The nose carries lots of citrus and hops, but also a touch of bready malts. On taste, you’ll find plenty of bitterness (the good, hoppy kind) upfront, while the aftertaste has the faintest linger of alcohol. Not enough to deter you, though, and this reaction dissipates a bit after a few more sips.

All in all, this is another solid Colorado IPA. But the diversity of flavors begs for it to be more. In other words: Please, please, please pair this beer with food. There’s no better time, as fresh, local produce is flooding the market. (For inspiration, check out Fresh Picks, our weekly series on what to eat now). I’ve paired this brew with a spicy salmon and chard noodle bowl as well as a kale salad. It performed splendidly in both cases proving that it’s versatility—in name, ingredients, and flavors—are worth trying.

The Ideal Drinker: An adventurous home cook.

(Read more beer reviews from 5280 editors)

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Natasha Gardner, Articles Editor

Natasha Gardner writes and edits longform journalism and multimedia projects for 5280 and is a regular columnist for 5280.com.

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