Arch IPA

Hartford Better Beer Co. Arch IPA
1 12 oz bottle, $1.72++, ?% ABV

Harvest Fine Wine & Spirits, West Hartford

Take a second to think about all the different definitions of “arch.” Ah, you see? There are more than you initially thought. Somewhere between 5 and 9 or so, depending on how granular you want to get. As this is CTMQ, we’re going to get pretty granular.

Arch (ärch) noun

1. A structure, especially one of masonry, forming the curved, pointed, or flat upper edge of an open space and supporting the weight above it, as in a bridge or doorway.

You know how McDonalds is known as the “Golden Arches?” Which is just a fancy way of saying “A Big Yellow M?” Calling the Arch IPA an IPA is sort of like that. It sounds good and IPA drinkers such as myself are always eager to try new IPA’s. But like the Golden Arches, once you have what’s being offered inside, you come away sad and disappointed. This is not an IPA; there is no aroma of hops or hoppy bitterness at all. But I have a theory about this…

2. A structure, such as a freestanding monument, shaped like an inverted U.

Like the famed Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Bushnell Park that adorns the Arch IPA label. It looks good.

Think back to the 1990’s. I spent half of them in college and quite well remember the growth and adaptation of the World Wide Web. I was an early Netscape adaptor and have nightmares about early web design. Designers thought, “if I can make something twinkle, I’m damn well going to make it twinkle.” There were lots of twinkling things.

The Hartford Better Beer Company began as a the Hartford Brewing Company brewpub on Pratt Street in Hartford back in 1991. A few years later, the World Wide Web was a growing phenomenon and businesses, especially “hip” businesses built web pages. Our friends at the HBBC did as well.

Unfortunately, they don’t appear to have updated it much since 1996. It’s bad. Seriously bad. Who knows if they’ll ever update this, but look at this page. Criminy.

3. A curve with the ends down and the middle up: the arch of a raised eyebrow.

“Ok,” you’re thinking, “what’s this theory of yours that you mentioned?” You probably arched your eyebrow.

HBBC sticks to its guns. No matter what. The Internet has evolved WAY beyond the design of their webpage, but they don’t change it. Ali G Respek. Also, back in the 90’s brewpubs were somewhat new and the American craft beer explosion was still years away.

At that time, the 3 most popular Connecticut beers were the Naughty Nurse and Dirty Blonde at City Steam and Mayor Mike’s Light. All three are/were somewhat boring and bland. Strong hops and (good) bitter beers were years away. Mayor Mike’s Light, brewed at the old Trout Brook Brewhouse, was essentially Bud Light.

So along comes the Hartford Brewery. They want to shake things up and brew “The Hoppinator” which became the Arch IPA. Hops! On Pratt Street! A revolution was launched. They even call them “Awesome Ales” on their site. Like, radical.

Except there was no taste for hoppy beers back then. Perhaps the brewer had to dial down the hops to such a degree as to nearly be non-existent; to better match the preferences of the time – especially on Pratt Street in the mid-90’s. No one wanted a true IPA. Probably not even a pale ale, which is more of what the Arch IPA is.

Years passed, but HBBC stuck to their guns. Like their website, they’ve refused to change or update. So their Arch IPA is nothing like any other actual IPA you know. It’s oddly sweet and metallic and even a tad fruity.

And yes, it’ll arch your eyebrows – and not in a good way.

4. Anatomy An organ or structure having a curved or bowlike appearance, especially either of two arched sections of the bony structure of the foot.

I have arch problems sometime hiking, let alone running, which is reason #340 I’ll never run a marathon. The Hartford Marathon finishes at the arch featured on the Arch IPA. And since the IPA tastes closer to water than an IPA, perhaps the runners wouldn’t mind having one.

There are 2 adjective definitions of arch, 4 transitive verb definitions and one intransitive verb one, but we’ll skip them. Eh, maybe I’ll use them for the Arch Amber or Arch Sunshine reviews.

The bottom line with this beer is that it’s pretty lame as an IPA. But again, perhaps it was somewhat groundbreaking in 1991 in Hartford when the beer landscape was littered with Ice House and Zima.

Too bad it’s 2012.

Hartford Better Beer Company says:

They say a lot, actually. Including, “Great on its own, but with plenty of depth, body and backbone to accompany a fine meal. Arch IPA complements a wide variety of great food, from a Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner to a perfectly-prepared ham steak caramelized on the grill. Unbelievable with mild Bratwurst, or spicy Sausage and Peppers. Tastes great ice-cold and straight from the bottle or in a glass that really focuses on its hoppy nose (It is called “Hoppinator”) – even better when acclimated to 45 to 50 degrees where this beer really steps forward to join the world’s best renditions of this classic style.


Overall Rating: D
Rating vs. Similar style: F

Beer Advocate’s Reviews of the Arch IPA
Hartford Better Beer Company
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