Northwest Passage - Flat Earth Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Northwest PassageNorthwest Passage

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BA SCORE
81
good

54 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 54
Hads: 126
rAvg: 3.53
pDev: 17.85%
Wants: 3
Gots: 9 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Flat Earth Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: edbeered on 04-02-2009

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 54 | Hads: 126
Photo of mnstorm99
1.89/5  rDev -46.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Hmm, had this on tap a while back and was quite unimpressed, but now that they bottle it I thought I would take it home and give it a review.
The apperance is a nice clear golden color, with a small white head that just leaves a dusting on top of the brew. Unfortunately I don't see any lacing and you can tell almost from the view this may be a bit unbalanced.
Aroma leaves ALOT to be desired in an IPA. I really was trying to find the proper nose on this beer, and although there are hops in there it is actually hard to find for an IPA.
Taste, it is a good bitter (not hoppy) beer, but I could use a bit of balance with the malt, and some hops in the flavor, not just bitterness.
Mouthfeel is pretty nice, I would think this beer was thin, but it isn't. There is a nice smooth texture to it.
Drinkability on this one is tough since it is so bitter and unbalanced.
I feel FE really wanted to make the midwest's hoppiest beer, but this isn't hoppy. I have had 60 IBU beers that have much more notice from the hops as this one does. I am quite disappointed as I was really hoping that a Minnesota brewery could make a true IPA, which this may be, but it isn't for me.
Edit...I really tried, but I cannot finish this beer!!! (1,224 characters)

Photo of caskstrength
1.97/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Good to see another local attempt at an IPA. If it's good, more fresh beer available, in a style where that really matters.

let's give it a go...

Looks good, IPA golden yellow, clear, no sediment. Smells are underwhelming, for sure. Simple, maybe some bready notes? Almost an adjunct brew, to be honest, to my nose. No rich, deep citrus/pine/malt at all.

Taste is weak and superficial, until the aftertaste when it morphs to awful with a harsh and bitter finish. A simplistic attempt at being "hoppy", I guess.

This beer has no complexity, no richness, no juiciness, no depth.

A complete letdown, and a brewing misfire. How did this one get out of the testing stage?

Drainpour for both me and my wife. (Her favorite beer is Furious, so she knows a good IPA) (767 characters)

Photo of mothman
2/5  rDev -43.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I had this on cask and thought I would like it better out of a bottle, but I was wrong.

Poured into a goblet/chalice.

Pours a small layer of white head. No lace left because of the small amount of head. Color is a golden orange.

Aroma: Tons of bready malt. Very slight amount of pine hops. Some orange flavors. Big let down on the nose.

Taste: Grassy hops with a ton of biscuit flavored malts. SOme caramel malts as well. Has an oily hops taste to it.

Mouthfeel: Very bitter, with lots of carbonation. NW Passage has a medium body Ends with a weedy hop flavor in the aftertaste.

Overall, this was a terrible IPA. I try not to drainpour any beer, but the sink was thirsty. Event at $4 a bomber, I would not buy this one again. I enjoy having FE around and hoped for this to be good, but I really couldn't find anything I enjoyed about it. (844 characters)

Photo of JackieTH
2.18/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Flat Earth seems to offer their various bombers at a reasonable price around here, so I picked one up for a random sample.

A mild pour resulted in a mountain of head that took a good 4-5 minutes to subside until there was any possibility of drinking. Color was light golden yellow. Smell was slightly resinous and a bit bready, okay I guess, but very mild. Taste was weakly malty, watery and yet bitter, but not bitter in a flavorful sort of way.

I drank the 1/4 of a glass of liquid that accumulated from the 4" of foam. Then made another attempt to drink a bit more, but it just wasn't good, or worth it. Drainpoured. There was some sedimentation on the bottom of the bottle. Perhaps a bad bottle. No freshness date that I can see. (735 characters)

Photo of auro0006
2.6/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I've tasted a majority of Flat Earth's beers, this one being the most recent to taste.

It pours a straw-colored gold. Lighter than I would have expected for an IPA. The head is big and frothy.

Aromas are dominantly hoppy. Little else is sensed in the nose. Hop aromas are mostly citric and herbal.

The body is crisp, dry and bitter.

The first flavor to lap over the tongue is that of hop bitterness. Mostly citric, but also with an herbal note. There is little malt flavor, which would aid in a balance. I thought the hops came off as harsh. (549 characters)

Photo of Tballz420
2.71/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, darker-golden colored brew, lots o' little bubbles. Small white head but pretty sticky. Sweet maltiness with piney hop notes on the nose. Initial taste reminds me of an ESB for whatever reason, but its got the standard AIPA taste, under malted however. The hops are fine, but the botched malt affects the entire beer. Thinner bodied as a result, pretty wet. Something just aint right. I'm not of the mind that every IPA has to be a mega-hop monster that continually pushes the bounds. But this tastes like the grimey McPoyles that we saw at the summit brew tour snuck in, drilled a hole into the malt mixture, and guzzled it all down before they could add it to the brew.

I wouldn't be shocked if this was a bunk batch, but theres nothing telltale to suggest that. (772 characters)

Photo of morimech
2.78/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pale yellow color with one finger of head that does have decent retention. Just a little spotty lacing is left on the glass. The color reminds me of a pils. I smell a lot of grassy and herbal elements coming from the hop bill of Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade, and Columbus. No aroma coming from the malt. The flavor, not surprisingly, is extremely bitter with strong herbal qualities. Bitter aftertaste. Very one dimensional. I am a fan of herbal hops but not in this concentration. Dry malt charactor if that is what I am actually tasting. Hard to tell after a few sips. The body is ok with a nice carbonation. Just not big enough to carry the bitterness. If someone just wanted to taste hops, this is your beer. Not dynamic enough to interest me past this one bomber. (764 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeOne
2.87/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

On tap at Stub & Herb's. Served in a standard pint glass.

Poured a slight amber golden color with a small head that left only the remnants of lacing down the glass. The color did not bode well for what comes next. Was expecting an IPA with NW hops and 6.5% ABV to be a richer amber, copper color. This looked just slightly darker than a pils.

The nose was sweet malt followed by earthy and grassy hops. Just the hint of lemon and orange rind.

The flavor was all floral and herbal hops with a tiny malt backbone of grains and breads.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin with a very bitter and dry finish. Left wanting more hop resin and oils.

I will not drink another one beyond this one. (684 characters)

Photo of Nugganooch
2.88/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Notes from 09/22/11
*Bomber to pint

A: Pours a dull brassy pale color with a soapy one finger head. Fizzin' out some sparce lace.

S: Smells of sweet bready malts and has a sort of spice hop spiked nose. Honey grahams.

T: More bready with a honey sweetness. Slight citrus/pine hop flavs but pale malts really dominate. Touch of a spicy clove like flavor that I would almost expect with a Belgian yeast. Slight metallic aftertaste.

M: Lighter body with a bit of a creamy mouthcoat and a nice refreshing crisp finish.

D: Refreshing and light but bit run of the mill for me in regards to flavors.
Overall a honey-bread and clove spice combo lacking in the hops. (664 characters)

Photo of ballz50401
2.92/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz. bottle (no freshness date) into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a crystal clear golden color with a small head that doesn't last. Very little carbonation is present.

Smell: Hop aroma is mostly of the herbal/earthy variety. Some biscuit & cereal malts in there too. Not the most pleasent American IPA aroma.

Taste/Mouthfeel: This has a weird combo of hop spice with some unusual herbal/earthy notes. Some toasty pilsner malts balance things up a bit. Body is light with a strong hop bitterness. I do like the palate punishment. It needs to be put in its place every now and then.

Drinkability: Ok...this looks, smells, tastes, and feels like what an India PBR would be if one was brewed. American IPA is my favorite style, but this one is not my cup of tea. I heard this being advertised as a West Coast style IPA because of the high IBU's, but it's not even close in my opinion. (920 characters)

Photo of doctormo
3/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I have had a bomber and a growler from the brewery this week. My notes are from the growler since there was more to taste and a bit better than the bomber.

A- Looks absolutely fine, nice copper color, looks like many beers. The growler has too much carbonation which yields a monster head if not poured carefully.

S- The hops are evident in the smell but not overpowering. Nothing seems wrong by the smell.

T- The major drawback of NWP is the extreme bitter taste. Instead of the hop grapefruit flavor, we get the peel here. Just like chewing on a peel of some citrus fruit. If this is your preference, it is a great beer, if not, you will not be able to finish a bottle.

M- The astringent taste puckers the mouth quite quickly. If you like this feeling, go for it.

D- A couple of glasses is all I can take at a sitting. You get used to the bitter taste after a while but I just don't want to drink too much of it knowing that that there are better IPA's in the fridge.

I had such high hopes for this beer, a bomber and a growler was my first shot a it. I should have had a sample at the brewery but I expected it would be great and only sampled other beer. Live and learn.

More importantly, if you are trying to show people the benefits of craft beer, do not use this as an example. It is only for those with a strong tongue, the rest will be disappointed.

Flat Earth is doing good things and I will visit again regardless of one beer who's style is not to my liking. (1,476 characters)

Photo of jsprain1
3.02/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Pale copper. Quite clear. Head is huge billowy light tan. Very rocky and billowy with great lacing.
S- The nose has some sugary fruit notes and a touch of pine. Lacking in power for an IPA.
T- There's more sugaryness to it than I would like. Piney hops with a touch of noble hop flavor comes through near the finish.
M- Carbonation is sharp, body is light.
O- It's ok, but it is nothing special, unfortunately. (413 characters)

Photo of BeardedBoffin
3.08/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer pours an off-gold color with a centimeter or so of foam. The aroma is surprisingly malty. The northwest hops are detected with some floral and citrus notes. The earthy floral hops dominate the palate with very little malt to balance it.

This beer is rough around the edges. The bitter hops are all over the place. I would prefer something more refined and balanced. (375 characters)

Photo of gatornation
3.15/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a clear peach color with a 1 finger head that dissipates but does leave a nice ring and lacing..smell is grapefruit rind hops caramelized malts but mostly hops..taste is the same huge hop presence on the bitter side..malts try to stabilize this but they fail .this is all hops and bitter at that..mouth feel is 1 dimensional.its not balanced very well..and its very crisp..to me it taste like an english india pale ale ..im mixed on this one..had no trouble finishing the bomber but i wanted more balance and flavor from this..not overly impressed..will try another bomber, but there are so many ipas to choose from and this one will not be on my list..it just not a good ipa (681 characters)

Photo of augustgarage
3.17/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass.

Clear amber body, off-white collar and peninsular surface slick. Vague lacing, poor retention.

Sweet honey aroma with cotton candy and orange zest notes as well.

Dark toasted malt and low bitterness on the palate. Faintly spicy hops add a touch of citrus and forest floor leading into an earthy river bottom finish.

Light bodied, average carbonation, slick mouth-feel.

Muddled collection of NW-style hops tossed in as a gimmick. The malt bill is more interesting, but can't make up for the stylistic poverty. (559 characters)

Photo of Penguin3200
3.2/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had in a bottle poured into my darkness tuplip. This one holds teh IBU title in Minneapolis for an American IPA and the bitterness is a bit overwhelming.

Pours deep amber golden color, with minimal head and good lacing.

Smell is resinous and very northwoods piney.

Taste is similar with a biting astringency of pine sap and up north coniferous sap. Very disjointed and not intergrated like the likes of the finest IPAs.

Mouthfeel is rough with the piney sap crushing taste buds. It is drinkable, but could be much more balanced.

Overall a decent IPA, but not memorable or int he usual rotation. (604 characters)

Photo of yamar68
3.31/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark gold with consistent beading and two full fingers of thick dollops of slightly off-white head. Nose has grassy hops, some floral notes, some piney bits - not much in the way of anything citrus or fruity. The taste is pretty earthy, herbal. The bitterness is muddied up in there. Not my favorite offering from Flat Earth. (333 characters)

Photo of garymuchow
3.35/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into my very large Old Style glass (something like 26 oz glass).
Seems like classic old style hops as the aroma reminds me a lot of the early IPA's I used to make in the 90's. Sometimes sharp and biting, along with a grassiness, that evolves to a sweetness, fruitiness with citrus. Pale malt base. Evolves nicely.
Kinda' cloudy. Opened with a sharp pop and poured with large head. Lots of sticky lacing.
Bitterness is pretty sharp. There are a variety of flavors going on in here, some real tasty, some standard and some I'm not so sure about. It again reminds me of some old home brew I did while extract brewing (and I wasn't that good). Seems like some off flavor or staleness on the hops. I like some of the malt flavor. Touch of sweetness and a solid good base. Very long finish of a mixed bitterness of grapefruit, in part.
Body is moderate with appropriate carbonation.
In sum, despite some good qualities, it's a rather average beer. Worth trying, but not much more than that. (998 characters)

Photo of soze47
3.4/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Taken from notes, consumed late 12/10 or 01/11 from a 22 oz. bomber.

Appearance: Orange, almost golden with yellowish tints. Very sticky lacing, which is odd since their isn't a huge head.

Aroma: Slight citrus hops backed by substantial caramel malt sweetness.

Taste: Very short hop burst that gets over taken by caramel, bready malt. The malt fades away enough for the hop bitterness to come back on the linger.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Light side of medium bodied. An odd beer in that I could see drinking it, but probably no more than two due two malt sweetness. The palette just gets too tired. (601 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.45/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle poured into a nonic.

Clear, straw golden-orange color with a fluffy white head and minimal lacing. Aroma is dry, piney and resiny. Creamy, medium thick body with light carbonation. Flavor is very bitter and resiny, dominated by herbal and pine hops. Strong biscuit malt body and grainy flavors. Reminds me more of an overhopped APA than a west coast IPA; not as bad as some of the reviews have made it out, but not very good either. (446 characters)

Photo of oline73
3.49/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a finger of fluffy white head that fades to a layer on top of the pour.

Smell: This beer has more malt up front than I would have expected. Some sweet caramel malt with a citrus hop bitterness in the background.

Taste: Not as sweet as the smell suggested, but just enough malt to back up the hops. Citrus peel bitterness with some sweetness in the background. Not too complex.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with tingly, fluffy carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Not a bad IPA. There isn't a whole lot going on, but I still enjoyed it. (629 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
3.5/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, Heritage Liquor in St. Paul, $4.29

appearance: cool label - served in a tyranena pint...very clear straw-golden body, light white foam head with minimal retention

smell: pretty light on the nose - hop bitterness in the distance, some grain and bready notes

taste: was kind of blindly excited to try this beer - maybe i just think the brewery and beer names are intriguing or something...This IPA isn't very balanced, and not in a positive way. There is certainly a bitter bite but there is not really any depth or complexity to the hops at all. The base of the beer is grain and bready and the two do not contrast well at all.

mouthfeel: lingering bitterness, light and crisp

drinkability: just ok (716 characters)

Photo of NuclearDolphin
3.55/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a 16oz Pint Glass; Note, according to my tour of Flat Earth Brewing, this beer supposedly has the highest IBU of any beer in the Midwest

Appearance - Clear Dark Orange Color with a mild amount of carbonation; it's unusally clear for an IPA. The head is around 2 1/2 finger width and very fluffy and foamy and leaves behind some very sticky lacing

Smell - Very Strong Piney and Floral Hops Smell. The citrus and grapefruit smell in particular are also pretty strong here as well. Even with the glass sitting 2 feet from me, I could still smell it. The aroma in general packs quite a punch!

Taste - There are quite a variety of flavors at work here. On one end, you have very strong piney and floral hops upfront and leaving behind a very bitter impression on the palette. On the other end, you have a spicy flavoring with a slight hint of sweetness, which sort of balances out the bitterness The aftertaste is that of a bitter floral hops flavor.

Mouthfeel - The overall body is fairly light and feel of this beer is surprisingly smooth and creamy. It's surprisingly easy to drink as well for an IPA!

Overall - All in all, it's a decent IPA. Those who like their beers hoppy will find alot to enjoy here. The flavor is slightly off balance in terms of flavor, but it's still a good IPA that's pretty easy to drink as well! (1,338 characters)

Photo of budgood1
3.56/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours out of the 22oz. bottle a crystal clear perfect gold with a voluminous ivory head after a hard pour. lots of wispy lace. toasty bready aroma with a zesty citric kick. sort of reminds me of orange marmelade on toast, weird i know. taste is typical of your run of the mill IPA's... solid malt and bread inspired malt base with a good deal of citric and resin inspired zest from the hop profile. there is a great deal of back end bitterness that makes this a nice treat for any hop lover. finishes on the dry side. the overall body is just sturdy enough to prop up the hops and give way to an itchy and scratchy type of mouthfeel due to the advertised 115 IBU's. drinkability is very nice due to the fact that even though this is a fairly bitter feeling brew, it isn't so complex that the approachability suffers.

you want a straight up bitter, no frills IPA? this fits the bill. and, as advertised on the bottle, i concur that this would be a great beer to pair with some spicy indian fare, sharp cheese and buffalo wings. recommended. (1,040 characters)

Photo of woosterbill
3.58/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bomber into a Duvel tulip. Thanks to dormant BA markhvizdak for picking this up in a blind locals-for-locals trade. 115 IBUs of Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade, and Colombus? Yes, please!

A: Clear, fairly dark amber body under an inch of frothy ecru foam that shows good retention and leaves plenty of lace. Quite nice.

S: Spicy, vegetal hops with just a touch of caramel malt. Pretty solid, but nowhere near the hop explosion I was hoping for based on the bottle's description. It's also nowhere near as terrible as some of the reviews would suggest.

T: Kind of a muddle of flavors, with spicy hops, bready malt, caramel, and bitter grapefruit all swirling together in a bittersweet melange. The bitterness absolutely dominates everything else on the finish, delivering complete mouth-drying palate destruction. I love the intensity, but it could be much, much more elegantly deployed.

M: Soft, moderately carbonated, mouth-filling medium body. Quite pleasant.

O: I enjoyed this beer, and found it to be an impressively potent IPA in terms of sheer hop bitterness. That said, I'm disappointed in how poorly the flavors of all these terrific hop varieties came together in the end. The potential is all there, but the execution is sadly lacking.

Cheers! (1,253 characters)

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Northwest Passage from Flat Earth Brewing Company
81 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.