Drinking two beers of the same style back to back can lead to some interesting revelations. Last night, with the Drifter experience still fresh in my mind, I popped open a Hopworks Crosstown Pale. I knew that there are deviations between beer in certain styles, but I had no idea that the deviations could be so extreme. But, I guess that’s why there are beer geeks. If there was never anything new in the craft brew world, what would there be to geek out about?

I think the difference between these two pales is largely a product of who they are aimed at. Drifter, being made for large scale distribution, is meant to appeal to a broader portion of the population, who might encounter the brew somewhere outside of a beer festival or brew pub. Crosstown, however, is a bit more aggressive and bitter, a quality that would more likely appeal to serious beer drinkers who have developed a palate for biting hops.

In the pint glass, Crosstown is a very pale amber with an adequately stiff head that doesn’t hang around for long. On the nose, it’s incredibly light. There is certainly a hops essence there, but it’s more floral than anything else, like catching a sudden whiff from a flower shop across the street: ghostly and pleasant.

Based on the aroma, I wasn’t expecting the huge hit of hops that came with the first sip. It came from behind the mellow blind of the gentle aroma like an angry guerrilla fighter popping up for attack.

There is a brightness and complexity to this pale that the Drifter doesn’t necessarily have. Crosstown starts off with a big hit of Meyer lemon citrus and then progresses into fresh carrot and apple tones. The finish lingers, starting with a bit of pepper and a good deal of clinging bitterness. I also experienced a kind of tongue numbing towards the end.

Halfway through the pint, my palate adjusted and the brew seemed mellower and more fruity, though the bitterness hung on. Still, I found myself not minding that bitterness much at all.

I really like this beer, and it makes me wonder what will happen when I crack a PBR sometime in August. I think this month might ruin cheap beer for me forever. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or not.