The Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA pours with a crystal-clear amber hue from its 12oz can, showcasing a traditional appearance that aligns with the classic American IPA style. The off-white foam forms a commendable head, lingering in the glass for several minutes.


Upon bringing the glass to your nose, the aroma unfolds with notes of honey-infused bread rolls, hints of orange marmalade, bright tangerine, and a subtle undertone of sweet tea. Interestingly, at this stage, Union Jack somewhat contradicts its official description, resembling more of an English IPA than the proclaimed West Coast style.


Diving into the flavor profile, Union Jack follows the footsteps of the iconic, resinous hop-forward American IPAs that paved the way for the style. The brew delivers a potent combination of sappy pine, citrus rind, and assertive bitterness, well-balanced by sturdy bread and orange marmalade undertones. Notably drier than its competitors, Union Jack, however, walks a fine line with its 60 IBUs, bordering on the verge of overwhelming intensity. Subsequent sips reveal tannic tea notes and a touch of walnut, introducing an oily, earthy bitterness that lingers throughout the finish. The beer maintains a relentless, take-no-prisoners demeanor, emphasizing its unapologetic character.


In terms of mouthfeel, Union Jack impresses by avoiding the pitfalls of astringency and tannic flavors. Despite its intense bitterness, the beer retains a remarkably smooth texture, complemented by lively carbonation that enhances the overall drinking experience.


Union Jack stands as a testament to a timeless beer with a classic formula executed to perfection. Its aggressive bitterness, while staying within the bounds of tradition, adds a layer of excitement to the drinking experience. The beer’s UK-themed branding might not do it any favors in a market brimming with competition, but a recent edgy rebranding attempts to clarify its West Coast intentions for discerning consumers.

Similar Beers

In the realm of old-school, chewy amber IPAs, Union Jack finds kinship with Stone IPA, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra, Green Flash West Coast IPA, Cigar City Jai Alai, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Modern Times Blazing World, and Bear Republic Racer 5.

Final Thoughts

While Union Jack adheres to a tried-and-true formula, its unyielding bitterness and unmistakable character may not resonate with everyone. The West Coast branding shift seeks to modernize its image, yet the market’s evolving tastes may pose challenges for this classic. In a landscape rich with options, Union Jack remains a stalwart contender, unapologetically standing its ground in the ever-evolving world of craft beer.

The Critic’s Perspective

Reflecting on the broader context of beer reviews, it’s crucial to strike a balance between constructive criticism and appreciation for the craft. Critical reviews serve as a valuable feedback loop, offering producers insights that can lead to continuous improvement. While businesses may initially bristle at negative feedback, viewing it as free quality control can pave the way for long-term success. For consumers, critical reviews act as a guide, helping navigate a sea of options to find the best value for their money. Disagreements are inevitable, but fostering a culture of respect ensures that opinions, whether critical or laudatory, contribute meaningfully to the discourse surrounding craft beer.

About the Reviewer

With a beer reviewing journey spanning back to 2008, the reviewer acknowledges the subjectivity inherent in their assessments. While personal preferences and affinities shape their opinions, the reviewer emphasizes the importance of considering individual palate variations, batch inconsistencies, and external factors influencing the tasting experience. Transparency about preferences and a curated list of favorite styles and beers provide readers with a context to interpret the reviews in a more nuanced manner.

In Closing

As the craft beer landscape evolves, the role of online reviews becomes increasingly pivotal. Beyond mere critiques, these reviews serve as a lifeline for businesses, aiding in establishing reputations and fostering growth. While disagreements may arise, fostering a culture of respectful discourse ensures that the craft beer community continues to thrive. Cheers to the pursuit of excellent brews and the diverse opinions that enrich our collective understanding of the craft.