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Union Jack India Pale Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Union Jack India Pale AleUnion Jack India Pale Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,226 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,226
Hads: 5,964
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 8.02%
Wants: 439
Gots: 1,148 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: beerguy101 on 10-09-2003

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,226 | Hads: 5,964
Reviews by StoneTSR:
Photo of StoneTSR
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes taken on 1/30/2012 that have been sitting on my computer since.

APPEARANCE: This might be the clearest craft beer I have ever seen. It’s like looking through glass…that has a lot of bubbles floating up through it. The head on the pint glass is about a half-inch thick, but settles into a coaster-thick cap rather quickly. The bubbles are very lively in this beer and they spring up from every part of the glass, not just the center or the sides. The lacing is decent, cathedral-like.

SMELL: The aroma on this one is gorgeous and strong. Every time I pour this beer at work I can smell it as soon as I pull the tap. This bomber is no exception, the bottom of the cap, a sniff into the bottle and the full pint glass all provide the same thing – a wonderful, piney, grassy and sweet, tropical fruit-like, hoppy smell indicative of a classic West Coast IPA.

TASTE: This beer is fresh and the first sip provides a big dose of bitter hoppiness. The grapefruit is strong with a solid grassiness to back it up. In fact, aside from Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter this may be the grassiest IPA I have tasted. The bitterness remains throughout the entire beer, but much like its SoCal brother, Stone Ruination, the Union Jack provides just enough malt to keep this beer on the far edge, close to too bitter, without ever slipping over it.

MOUTHFEEL: The sparkle is more of a tickle than a scrub of the palate and the palate of any IPA drinker will find that it does not resist at all. This is a pretty easy-drinking IPA. It is also a surprisingly light beer.

OVERALL: For some reason I never really gave this beer as much credit as I should have. I have tasted it in the past, but before moving to Colorado I could not get my hands on it unless I was travelling and I usually passed it up in favor of something more exotic. That all changed, however, when my manager and I tasted a lineup of Firestone-Walker beers last year. We needed an IPA on draft and we both, on the spot, decided that the Union Jack was our winner. Since then I have tasted it many times and thoroughly enjoyed it. It takes a lot for me to say this, but it now sits beside Modus Hoperandi (and Blind Pig when I am so fortunate) as my go-to IPA. (2,235 characters)

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
3.91/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Big thanks to Wowcoolman for hooking me up with some nice Firestone Walker wants, including this one. Union Jack pours with very nice clarity; it's kind of got a median amber color, but ranges from bright, golden yellow to deeper, ruby-brown depending on the intensity of the light shining through it at the moment. The three-finger, off-white cream cap is slow to sink and leaves sick lacing all the way down. Fantastic looking beer.

"Pungent" is probably the best word to describe the aroma of the hop bill in Union Jack. Loads and loads of dank hop oils; weedy, spicy, earthy, herbal. The dank is equally matched with shining grapefruit and tangerine aromas - bitter, tangy, and raw. Despite what many other people say, I felt the malt presence in the aroma was quite high and noticeable; big-time toasted bread notes from start to finish. The bottling date was only about 7 weeks ago, so it's definitely not old.

The flavor follows through with what the nose was promising, although unfortunately I feel that it does so half-heartedly. There's a big, up-front smash of earthy, dirty, and pungent hops including light pine and oily resins. There's also a good bit of citrus peels, less discernible on the palate, however. Some light pepper seems to be sprinkled over everything, too. I mean, I like the taste, but for some reason it doesn't seem as "standoutish" as the aroma did.

Malts are a bit heavier on the palate, I'd say, displaying substantial amounts of sweet bread and toasted crackers. Hard to tell exactly what types of malts were used thanks to the large color gradient, but I'm not getting anything as dark as caramel malt in here. Warming brings out a slight booziness, even at only 7.5% ABV, that I'm somewhat hesitant but forced to identify it with nail polish remover. It never gets overwhelming, though, but it wouldn't be missed if it were gone.

Solid body for an IPA, medium, slick, and toying on the edge of being sticky. Carbonation was on-point, too. Much like Double Jack, I feel this is a bit overrated for what it is, albeit it's still marvelously crafted. They (obviously) have similar hop flavors, so perhaps this particular bill and schedule doesn't completely vibe with my palate. In any case, it was still a very enjoyable IPA. (2,266 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
2.32/5  rDev -45.3%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

Served on draught into a Miller Lite glass at the 9-0 Bar in South Central Los Angeles. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a half-finger pathetic head of fair cream, decent thickness, and awful retention. Colour is a semitransparent yellow-copper.

Sm: Bittering hops. That's it. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Bittering hops are present on the climax over top a standard barley foundation. Poorly balanced but decently built.

Mf: Coarse, sharp, and wet. A touch watery (the kiss of death in my reviews).

Dr: The high ABV comes through far more than it should. It's watery and low quality. I won't have it again on draught, but I guess I'd try a bottle of it, hoping it were less watery.

***
01.07.15: Impressions from a bottle. Bottled 11/05/14. Reviewed live as an IPA. Note that the name of this beer per the label is "Union Jack IPA." 7.5% ABV

Served cold into a pilsner glass. Expectations are below average given the brewery.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 3 fingers wide. Beige colour. Soft-looking. Supple. Creamy. Frothy. Full. Light lacing coats the glass as it recedes. Retention is excellent - about 7-8+ minutes.

BODY: Clear translucent transparent pale copper of average vibrance. Clean; no yeasty sediment or hop detritus is visible.

Overall, it looks like a pretty standard IPA. Has no stand-out characteristics. Certainly not unique or special.

AROMA: Rather plain, actually. Pale malts, floral hop character, some untoward tropical fruit character. Hints of resins and hop oils. Hop bitterness is obnoxiously untamed, and rather forward at the expense of balance. Hints of soapiness and detergent off-character don't do this any favours. Slightly bready, with notes of vague fruitcake and sweetbread. Really quite simple.

Aromatic intensity is average. It's a soft aroma which doesn't assault the drinker, but it's just so...derivative?

No yeast character or overt alcohol is detectable (to style).

TASTE/TEXTURE: Rampant obnoxious hop bitterness runs rampant throughout the flavour profile, made worse by the beer's dragging coarse scratchy rough feel, which grates against the palate. The texture is just irritating - and stale to boot. The simple taste is comprised of generic pale malts, some uninteresting tropical fruit notes, and mundane floral hop character. Fundamental imbalance (particularly between malt sweetness and hop bitterness) makes this brew hard to enjoy.

Has a shallow depth of flavour. Average flavour intensity and duration. Poor flavour amplitude. There isn't any real complexity/intricacy, nuance, or subtlety to speak of. The ingredients clash, the choices of hops are poor, and the malt backbone is inadequate. It's a bit of a mess, and has a chaotic unguided overall feel. I struggle to enjoy it.

Additionally, it's overcarbonated and unrefreshing. Not a gestalt build for an IPA by any means. It just never feels like a cohesive whole.

OVERALL: I continue to be perplexed by the hullabaloo surrounding Firestone Walker - at least in terms of their hoppy offerings. This is - at best - a forgettable IPA with no characteristics that would lead the discerning drinker to regard it as world-class. A good beer of any style requires balance, but Firestone Walker has opted to disregard that axiom in favour of assaulting the drinker with an obnoxious loud hop bitterness that will only please adherents to the childish notion that more substantial hop content, higher IBUs, and maximal perceived bitterness are characteristics indicative of quality. IPA brewing is not a dicksizing competition to see who can pack more hop essence into a liquid; it's a craft which requires careful attention to balance and subtlety. This beer industry equivalent of the Loudness War has to stop.

D+ (3,755 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Honey with a large splash of orange juice. The head is polished ivory in color and features loads of sticky bubbles on its upper surface. As those bubbles burst, they leave a delicate array of lace-like lace all over the upper reaches of the glass. A classic look.

And an outstanding nose! There goes any thought that Union Jack is an English IPA. So why the name? The hop bill (Simcoe, Centennial, Cascade, Columbus) is 100% American and the sheer amount of hoppiness is AIPA all the way. Talk about a fantastically bright, perfectly pungent, fresh hop-like nose. Prediction: this is going to be great beer.

That was way too easy. As expected, Union Jack is full-to-bursting with C-hop goodness. Can't forget the Simcoe (S-hop), since they give the flavor profile a distinctly tropical vibe that adds yet another dimension. Killer hop bill. Absolutely killer. It's also nice to see that the brewery didn't allow the little green cones to outpace their malt support.

There's just enough of a barely toasted, caramel maltiness (think SN Celebration Ale) to let the drinker know that hops aren't the only ingredient that's allowed to provide flavor. The good thing is that the caramel doesn't get in the way of the grapefruit, bitter orange and pineapple explosion. 72 IBUs seems about right, but they're a friendly 72.

The mouthfeel stays well within the bounds of the IPA style. Any bigger and it wouldn't work as well. It's as smooth as glass and is lightly creamy in the bargain. Soft-edged carbonation is pretty much perfect.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. has another winner with Union Jack India Pale Ale. Forget the British flag, though. This beer is Stars And Stripes Forever and is proud of it. I could (and would) drink this stuff by the case if it was available locally. (1,783 characters)

Photo of oberon
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have wanted to try this for awhile,glad to get my hands on it.Poured into a standard pint glass a clear medium to full on golden with a thinner but well retained white head.Citric and pine in the nose,I mean just great hop definition,a bit of sweet alcohol as well.The mouthfeel is just a tad thin and prickly but it doesnt take away from the drinkibility really,just me nit picking really.Well balanced with big resiny and citric hop intertwining with a hefty sweet doughy malt base,yeah the hops win out but the malt base holds firm.A great Cali IPA the hops are huge but its not totally unbalanced. (603 characters)

Photo of mojohawk21
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of RoyalT
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - This is a delicious-looking clear but heavy orange body with a nice, retentive white head that even left some lacing on the inside of my pint glass.

Smell - The rich, orange-flavored hops are big and heavy. I can pick up a solid sweetish malt base but it's the orange and to some extent pine hops that lead this beautiful bouquet.

Taste - This one is full of flavor. The hops make a magnificent transition from nose to tongue bringing out a massive array of huge hop flavors without being too bitter or harsh and the sweetness from the malts is a perfect compliment.

Mouthfeel - This is a solid medium-bodied ale that is bitter but not punishingly so and just enough carbonation to keep you interested.

Drinkability - This is both big and quaffable at the same time. The balance is superb yet the hopheads will relish the flavors. This is a winner for sure. (874 characters)

Photo of aszatk01
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of cam477
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of Bmm281
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of DavyJones
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of t2grogan
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of MadScientist
3.78/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A brilliantly clear medium amber beer. The persistant off-white has cream and rocky bubbles that sticky, sort of climbing of the beer and up the glass. Leaves some light lacing as well.

S: A moderately-high citrus, pineapple and tropical fruit hop aroma dominates. There is a light toasty malt aroma with mild esters and a soft alcohol aroma. A slight grassiness from the dry hopping.

T: An assertive hops bitterness with some citrusy hops flavors that are showing their age. There is an interesting twist to the supportive malt flavor that I'm going to chalk up to Firestones Burton Method along with a slight toasted malt flavor. There is light ester, A slight grassy note and soft alcohol sweetness. The balance is definitely bitter with the bitterness lingering long past the dry finish.

M: A medium bodied beer with moderately high carbonation. There is some warmth and a very light prickle on the palate.

O: A strong IPA with an strong bitterness and just enough malt to keep it from going off the deep end. I have got to find a fresh bottle of this as the hops flavor is showing it's age.

Bottled on 04/10/12 (1,125 characters)

Photo of Runs4Beer
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of jono0101
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of brownbeer
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Tiernan
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of ccapurso
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of hopsleeroy
4.12/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 Oz bottle from Einweizenbitte-a fantastic extra! Thanks for the opportunity.

A-Orange golden color with some chill haze. Nice white lacing that settlesafter a 2 inch head.
S-Grapefuit, tangerines, sweet citrus, a little bit of pine smell. Citrus is slightly sweet scent. Smells great
T-More pine in taste but upfront hops with citrus, lingering pine on back of tongue on swallow. A little bit harsh on back because of the pine resin flavor-too much chinook? Sweet malt is balanced while drinking with some mild toffee flavor
M-Med in mouth, good carbo, slightly oily and taste of resin on back of mouth
D-The back harshness drops this from a 4.5 to a 4 but overall very nice and I would drink another one. (710 characters)

Photo of tohe9384
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of TimBeaulieu
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of woodchipper
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Andnkuhn
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of delaced21
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of SkiBum22
4/5  rDev -5.7%

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Union Jack India Pale Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 1,226 ratings.