My whistle-stop tour of San Antonio beers pulled into Branchline Brewing this week, to try The Visitor, their new West Coast style IPA. Branchline is one of the newer breweries in the area, but in only four years, they have managed to build a respectable business with great beers on bar taps and store shelves around town. And as of August 20, their taproom is open from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. every day!
The Visitor is Branchline’s love song to the big, hoppy West Coast IPAs that the brewers and their brewery visitors love. True to the West Coast form, everything about this beer is larger than life—including the 16 oz tallboy cans the beer ships in. I recommend pouring the beer into a pint glass to enjoy the rich, amber color and the thick, almost white head that leaves tracings of lace as you enjoy the beer.
Pouring into a glass also allows The Visitor a little breathing room. The Azacca hops really shine here, with an intense fruit-forward aroma. I caught grapefruit, stone fruit and pine. The malt is also present, providing a nice balance to the aroma. The tropical fruit flavor of the Azacca hops play the leading role in the flavor profile. Notes of stone fruit and a light, floral finish round out the flavor.
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A West Coast IPA doesn’t just need to have big citrus flavor, it also needs a big, bitter bite. Branchline adds Magnum hops to crank the bitter element up to West Coast standards. The bitterness is strong (77 IBUs) and is a nice touch for hopheads that want that West Coast hoppy bitterness from a local brewer. The slightly bitter finish and the ample carbonation make the beer easy to enjoy slowly, but I did not experience a significant change in aroma and flavor as the beer warmed while drinking it.
When I travel, I often bring a part of the region back with me. The brewers at Branchline brought the big, hoppy, citrusy IPA style back from the West Coast and made a faithful version with The Visitor. Give this beer a try if you’re already a hophead, or if you’re looking to take a trip to the hoppy side.