Last week, Barebottle Brewing Company surprised us along with all their fans by dropping a mid-week can release called Secret City. With a blue and pink hued can covered in San Francisco iconic imagery, sandwiched between to pieces of pineapple (in typical Barebottle fashion of course), it’s one of the more stand-out label designs we’ve seen from Barebottle in recent months.
The design looked bold and refreshing, and the pastel shades made us think it would bring a cooling, relaxing note to a hot day on the Embarcadero or at Dolores Park.
We were not disappointed.
With a deep orange hue and strong head retention, Secret City pours considerably thicker than classic West Coast IPAs and even a bit more than most Hazy IPAs. Whether this is a byproduct of Barebottle’s dry-hopping or the inclusion of lactose in this particular recipe, the result is a beer that has excellent texture. It has an almost pillowy, fluffy feel that doesn’t feel heavy, but instead simply fulfilling.
The flavor profile is stated by Barebottle to be “tropical fruit notes” but more specifically, we think it brings strong POG juice vibes to the table. POG juice, or passion fruit/orange/guava juice blend, is popular in Hawaii as a refreshing blend and can be found at just about every breakfast table. POG juice doesn’t strongly resemble any one of the three fruits that make it up, but ends up coming across as its own tropical fruit flavor.
Though backed by two doses of Simcoe, which normally brings a piney and bitter flavor to beer, and a dry hopping of Mosaic, Secret City gets those strong POG flavors from both Lemondrops hops added in the whirlpool and a dry hopping of Equinox hops. Lemondrop, a lesser-known aroma-type hop, is known for adding citrusy, fruity and herbal notes to beer. Equinox, which is more commonly known as Ekuanot these days, adds to that with its own profile of papaya, lemon, lime and the overarching descriptor of “tropical fruit.”
The result is a beer with strong tropical flavors that is finished with a pleasant, smooth bitterness that keeps you going back for more.
With Secret City, much like with Mandela Effect (last week’s Beer of the Week) and the new recipe for Muir Woods, it feels like Barebottle is hitting a stride with their single IPA offerings. Secret City is just the third IPA that Barebottle has chosen to can in their three years as a business, with every IPA up until Muir Woods being bottled. It just so happens that the three beers to hit can have also been arguably some of their best.