With Any Luck, Shannon Brewing Company’s Other Beers Are Better Than Its IPA.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it's local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we Shannon Brewing Company's IPA.

Fast Facts on Shannon IPA.
Style: India Pale Ale.
ABV: 5.6 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 63.
Color: Medium-dark amber.
Availability: Year-round.

Overview.
Native to Keller, Shannon Brewing Company opened its doors in 2013 with a unique approach to brewing, particularly for the North Texas market. With a focus on Irish-inspired ales, Shannon uses fresh spring water from nearby Samantha Springs, and an old school brewing process — using fire to heat the mash tun and boil kettle, instead of the more common gas-fired burner or steam system. In addition, they try to use as many non-GMO products as possible in its beers. Shannon IPA is part of the brewery's core lineup of beers, and is available year-round.

Background on India Pale Ales.
For a good background on the India Pale Ale style, see our review of Community's Mosaic IPA.

Appearance.
Shannon IPA pours a medium to medium dark amber, with a thick, frothy, off-white head. For the most part, there's great clarity in the beer, though it's not perfectly clear.

Aroma.
The beer's faint notes of citrus and pine are kind of undermined by a bready, malt sweetness, that muddies what would otherwise be a quite pleasant hop aroma. For an IPA, the hop aromas seem quite muted as well, and this only gets worse as the beer warms. For this style, I would expect a much more robust hop aroma, especially considering that the beer was dry hopped. Normally, the dry-hopping process should lead to more defined hop characteristics in the aroma.

Flavor.
Shannon IPA boasts a somewhat intense hop bitterness up front, but not a lot of hop flavor. There's some citrus and pine again, but the bitterness feels heavy-handed without much to round out and balance the beer. Surprisingly, given the aromas, I was expecting more of a strong malt backbone, but only a faint hint of malty flavor can be found. Shannon IPA finishes slightly sweet and watery — it doesn't exactly beg for a repeat sip.

Mouthfeel.
For an IPA, the beer has adequate carbonation for the style, but its light, almost watery finish screams for some additional body.

Overall Impression.
In today's craft beer market, an IPA is frequently a brewery's workhorse beer. Given that India Pale Ales are often cited by industry groups as being the most popular and fastest growing beer style, it's important to get this right. For whatever reason, Shannon Brewing Company has missed the mark with its take on the style. It could be the relative youth of the operation, poor packaging technique or just a miscalculation with recipe formulation. Either way, the beer needs work. Shannon IPA missed the mark on three of the four most important primary judging categories: The aroma was lacking, and the rest of the beer was frankly an unbalanced, thin, faintly sweet mess. In a market not lacking for quality hop-forward beers, this would be a tough one to recommend over superior local products.

Score.
On a scale of 1-10, I'll give Shannon IPA a 4.

What's happening in the area brew scene?
• Saturday, January 24. The Dallas Brew Bus' January Tour.
• Saturday, January 24. Two-Year Anniversary Tour at Community Beer Co.
• Sunday, January 25. One-Pot Chili Challenge at FireWheel Brewing Co.
• Saturday, February 14. Chocolate & Beer Pairing with Dude, Sweet Chocolate at Dallas Beer Kitchen.
• Friday, February 20. Taproom Grand Opening at Nine Band Brewing.
• Friday, March 20. Bluebonnet Brew-Off at Irving Convention Center.
• Saturday, April 11. Big Texas Beer Fest at Fair Park.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Peticolas' Royal Scandal: 10.
Community's Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas' Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community's Legion: 10.
Peticolas' Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community's Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood's Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood's Goatman: 9.5.
Community's Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas' Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
Revolver's Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House's Imperial Texan: 9.
Community's Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas' Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners' Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Deep Ellum's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood's Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr's Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood's Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Lakewood's Punkel: 8.
Four Corners' El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House's Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum's GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas' The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum's Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver's Bock: 8.
903 Brewers' Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas' Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works' Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House's Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood's Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood's Hop Trapp: 8.
Martin House's Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood's Antigoon's Revenge: 7.5.
Community's Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood's Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek's The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company's Cellarman's Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood's Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers' The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers' Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House's Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work's Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver's High Brass: 7.
Community's Pale Ale: 7.
Martin House's River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's Brown Ale: 7.
Community's Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity's Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Peticolas' The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum's Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Cedar Creek's Elliott's Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery's Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works' WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood's La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Deep Ellum's Numb Comfort: 5.
Grapevine's Monarch: 4.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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