It's always a great day when I find a promising looking new beer from a brewery I'm already a fan of. In this particular instance it was a six-pack of an IPA from Mad River Brewing Company I eagerly picked up. Being familiar with their Jamaica Brand Red Ale, I was surprised to see this new beer, Jamaica Sunset IPA using the same "Jamaica Brand" brand. A little bit of research revealed the Jamaica Brand originated from Mad River's involvement with the Reggae on the River festival; Jamaica Brand beers being those originally brewed for the event.
Poured into the glass, I have to say Jamaica Brand Sunset IPA was gorgeous... red-clover honey in color with a hazy body that emitted a warm glow from within as it reflected the ambient light and subtly moved as the light carbonation trails bubbles to the top. The head was a bright white and tight without being sticky. I'm not sure if it was the "Sunset" in the name affecting my subconscious perception, but Sunset IPA might be the best and most unique looking beer I have seen in a glass. The nose was very similar to some of my favorite IPAs... light grapefruit notes without the bitterness.
The first taste of Jamaica Brand Sunset IPA was a firm, but not overwhelming, candied grapefruit with enough carbonation to open my taste buds. As the carbonation faded and the ale settled on my palette, the sweet grapefruit flavor gained a toasty characteristic, but none of the typical bread notes that come with it. Sunset IPA ended on a grapefruit rind linger that was less bitter than most.
I loved this beer, and plan on adding this to my regular rotation for session beers. It's closer in taste to Russian River's Pliny the Elder than the big, piny IPAs of the Northwest, but slightly lighter, easier to take on, and (being pragmatic) a much more affordable habit.