As far as American brewing companies go, I think that Sam Adams is one of the better "big-name" breweries. I have liked almost all of the Sam Adams beers that I've tried, and their Latitude 48 IPA will be joining the list as "another good beer from Sam Adams."
As I have said recently, I've been drinking a lot of IPAs lately. I have been in a very "bitter beer" mood for the past month or two, and I like to think that at this point, I have a fairly wide and objective data set from which to pull information about the qualities of an IPA. Although most IPAs have relatively heavy overtones of citrus, Sam Adams Latitude 48 is seemingly more focused on the hops. The citrus taste is still there, as there are light hints of orange peel in the aftertaste, but the citrus taste is much less pronounced than in other beers of its type. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do really like the citrus flavor that usually accompanies IPAs, so its relative absence in this one was a little bit disappointing.
Where Latitude 48 does not fall short, however, is in the hops. It has a somewhat light and malty taste on the nose, but ends with a strong and fairly bitter, hoppy finish. For those who do not like bitter beers, this one is probably not going to be your cup of tea, because it's pretty bitter. This is nothing unexpected from an IPA, but the lacking taste of the citrus leaves more room for the bitterness to show through. I enjoy beers with strong, bitter finishes, and although I do miss the citrus, the bitterness is very satisfying and leaves a relatively unique aftertaste (for an IPA) in its wake.
Overall, I liked this one a good bit. Although I would have preferred a slightly heavier citrus flavor, the hoppy bitterness was still very pronounced and tasty. If you like IPAs or strong, bitter ales, this is definitely one to try out.
Purchased: Wal-Mart [Columbia, SC]
Size: 12 fl. oz. [355 mL]
Price: $8.99 [6-pack]