What do you get when you cross beer and tea? There's a question I didn't think I'd ever find an answer to (or ever ask for that matter). But while perusing the shelves of a local liquor store, I happened upon Mateveza's Yerba Mate IPA. It was way too weird not to try once, even if I had a feeling that I wasn't going to be a fan. I'll admit, I had mate once a few years ago and didn't really care for it at all, so the following review may be a bit biased. Despite not liking mate, this blog is about trying new styles of beer and this beer is, if nothing else, unique. So in the name of science, I took it home and cracked open the bottle.
The beer pours a cloudy amber color with ruby tinges on the edges. After the pour, there was a moderate off-white head that faded pretty fast. The smell was way better than I was expecting. I smelled lots of floral hops first, then a sort of tropical scent which I thought smelled like lychee. Then came the tea- a sort of musty earthy smell that was somewhat hidden behind the other elements.
The taste was, well, unique. I was a little put off because this beer labels itself an IPA, but really has nothing in the taste that would cause me to believe the label. The taste starts with a slight touch of floral hops and a some sweetness similar to the lychee scent. Then this beer takes a pretty drastic turn and hits your taste buds with a hard blast of mate. The finish is all bitter tea and earthy funk, and not in a good way. As the beer warms, the hint of hops disappears and is replaced by more tea. So in the end, you really just feel like you're drinking cold mate. Not good. I almost couldn't finish this beer because it tasted so gross.
Despite not liking mate to begin with and trying to give it a shot, things didn't go well. I'm trying to handicap my grade a bit because of my bias, but I still can't make myself give this one a good grade. If you label a beer an IPA, no matter what else you do to it, you have to have hops. The hops of this beer were so hidden in the background that labeling this an IPA seems silly.
Final Grade: C-