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11 Below Trade Bait

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11 Below Trade Bait

11 Below Brewing

North Houston

IPA

ABV: 6.5%

IBUs: 45

Packaging: Draft, Growler, and Crowler at DOA!

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Right out of the gate I have to say that I’ve been told that this beer is good but that it’s not really “trade bait.” In other words, it’s not “all that and a bag of chips hops.” I’m such a skeptic that I’m almost more drawn to something when someone talks down about it than when they hype it up.

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On to the beer. It’s getting cold out, so it’s time for stouts. Only problem is I️ have a bunch of hops in my fridge, so I have to drink them before I drink for the season. Plus, we’re at the point in the year where we still experience 2-3 seasons in a day, so it’s just not cold enough for me to start longing for a stout. 11 Below Trade Bait IPA is one of the first of the hops to go because I’m curious and crowlers take up a lot of space in my beer fridge!

As I fish the can out of my fridge, I’m reminded of the illustration, but the art won’t be found on a can. Instead, this one has DOA’s label and some scribbled handwriting. Tap handles of Trade Bait feature the classic, sleek, 11 below metal look with a light blue octopus sporting a monocle and top hat.

Speaking of top hats, the head on 11 below trade bait sticks around like your favorite hat – except it’s chalk-white, creamy, and foamy. 11 Below Trade Bait pours an almost clear, dark-yellow, gold. It’s not hazy, but it’s not clear either. If I had to pick one side of the spectrum, it’s definitely on the clearer side.

All that foam houses a delightfully fruity hop aroma that smells like oranges and pineapples in the cleanest, sharpest way. Not even sure if that makes sense. With some of the hazy IPAs we’ve had lately, there’s a ton of hop aroma and flavor, but there’s so much, that sometimes they end up blending together. Something like tropical fruit or citrus may be noted rather than a more specific mango or tangerine. That’s what I’m getting at with the clean, sharp stuff.

I’m sort of an odd bird when it comes to this craft beer stuff. When somebody says something is fantastic, I think they’re full of crap and they’re just being dick riders because brand loyalty is so common with this beer stuff, (although it’s difficult to achieve). When somebody says something’s awful, I wonder to myself if they’re just being a hater, conversely. In other words, I don’t believe any of these turds until I taste it for myself!

All that said, I think the haters were tripping. This beer is good. It’s medium bodied, and easy to drink. The idea with 11 Below Trade Bait is to rotate the dry hops and showcase a little something different each time, and I’m looking forward to future iterations. This go round the hops are mildly bitter and smooth all the way through, and they leave your pallet with a refreshed feeling of fruitiness without coming off creamy or juice-like.

The subdued sweet malt backbone starts as each wave rushes over your tongue, and then the octopus makes more waves with the crisp, clean, bright finish. Aside from the citrus and pineapple, there’s a little melon or stone fruit on the lingering finish.

11 Below Trade Bait reminds me a little bit of Mini Boss from Eureka Heights. At least this batch with Galaxy, Citra and Simcoe, does. I’m all about the haze craze, but I haven’t forsaken the clear IPAs, or clear-ish in this case. If it’s good, it’s good, and being murky isn’t a qualifier for good in my book.

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You can find 11 Below Trade Bait on tap at the brewery and Drink of Ages Pub. Valhalla and Mellow Mushroom had some too. 11 Below seems to can every beer they put on tap regularly, so here’s to hoping Trade Bait’s next in line. I luhhhh-me some Lame Duck, but this might be a staple in my fridge if it ever ends up on shelves.

  • My Overall Rating
3.5

11 Below Trade Bait

It’s a good beer, but I think people may have had a preconceived notion before tasting it, and when it didn’t match their expectations maybe they were disappointed. Chris and I have learned with this blog that having zero expectations of anyone, any experience, any beer, provides for the best experience and Trade Bait’s no different. It’s not a hazy IPA, and that’s alright because it’s good. If it sucked, I might say it’s an issue. There’s a lot to a name, especially with this beer stuff.

Let us know by voting below or tell us about it in the comments! Beers to you, Houston!

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Anthony Gorrity
tony.d@beerchronicle.com

Anthony's a Houston native, a Creative Strategist at https://ledgeloungers.com/, an adjunct instructor of Visual Communication at Lone Star College, and a UH Coog that loves good beer almost as much as he does his city. Anthony lives to help others and that's found a home helping some of the coolest breweries on earth with creative and marketing projects that can be seen on our Portfolio page. Fueled by hoppy lagers, sessionable IPAs, and gangster rap, he's ticked his way through H-Town, rocking the most unusual Nikes he can find. When he's not writing for us, he's with his family or very patiently rooting for the Rockets.

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