As most of my drinking buddies will tell you, I’m a big fan of Airways.
I used to work (and currently live) in the Tukwila area, and Airways is a small brewery just a few minutes south of me that you wouldn’t really know about unless someone gave you a heads up. The building is small and unassuming, right in the middle of a business park; you wouldn’t even know they existed if it weren’t for the mass of cars in the parking lot you’ll always see during business hours.
If we ever grab a beer together, remind me to tell you my story about meeting the brewer at Airways and discovering our past connections long after we originally lost touch. For now, let’s get into a review of their flagship beer, the Sky Hag IPA.
Sky Hag pours a beautiful golden amber color with a frothy, very slightly off-white head. Medium sized bubbles can be seen in the head, which stays around for a while but isn’t overly persistent. Within 30 seconds or so, the foaminess rests into a very thin froth on top of the beer which never completely goes away.
Strangely, I remember this beer being much clearer in the past. This pour is almost completely opaque and slightly cloudy; through conversations with the brewer, I know Airways doesn’t filter their beer, but it doesn’t look like gelatin or any clarifying agents were used for this one.
While the haziness throws me off a bit, it’s still a very nice-looking beer and is getting a 2 from me for appearance.
Appearance Rating: 2 / 3
I’m getting a nice burst of sweetness and floral hops with medium-strong intensity right at the front of the nose. There are hints of caramel, grain, and bread coming from the malts, alongside some very earthy and floral hops.
While the nose is nicely balanced, I’m left wishing for some more of a citrus punch to compliment the sweetness from the malts. On the nose, it’s coming across to me more like an east coast IPA than a west coast style.
Aroma Rating: 9 / 12
Lots of strong hop bitterness right at the front of the tongue on this one. It’s balanced by sweetness from the malts a bit later on, but this is definitely more on on the bitter size overall (certainly more than I expected from the nose).
I’m getting lots of bready / grainy malt flavor, which while nice, I wish had a bit more sweetness to it. Being such a bitter hop-forward beer, I’d like to see a more interesting malt profile to back it up. The hops are coming through with mostly earthy and floral qualities, which a subtle pungent citrus overtone that reminds me strongly of unsweetened grapefruit.
The alcohol is there, but being 7.5% it’s certainly not sweet or overpowering. I think the flavor of this beer is well-crafted and, as a hop head, I’m enjoying it quite a bit. That said, it’s incredibly bitter and I certainly wouldn’t suggest it to someone as a gateway into the IPA style.
Flavor Rating: 16 / 20
I’m getting a medium-light mouthfeel with very lively carbonation. Sky Hag is very dry and astringent all throughout the tasting, and mouth-puckering in the end (again reminiscent of unsweetened grapefruit).
Overall I’d say it’s a very solid mouthfeel for what I’d expect from the style, and compliments the flavors and aroma I’m getting from the beer very nicely.
Mouthfeel Rating: 4 / 5
Well, the tagline “this beer’s as bitter as she is” is certainly accurate! This is a great beer for a hop head, but probably too much for someone new to the style. For my personal preference, it’s a wonderful fresh-tasting IPA that I’d drink over and over again.
That said, I do wish there was more of a citrus sweetness, particularly in the flavor. Both the malt and hop profiles are on the one-noted side of things, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s so well-crafted that I’m left wanting to see what more this beer can do as the recipe evolves.
Overall Rating: 7 / 10