Upon laying eyes on Kern River’s Just Outstanding IPA, my initial reaction was one of surprise, finding it neatly stacked in 12-ounce cans at my local beer emporium. The packaging, marked with a production date of 5/16/17 in a hasty Sharpie scrawl, indicated its freshness, having been merely a week old when it entered my possession. It’s worth noting the brewery’s decision to go against the 16-ounce trend, opting for a smaller format while maintaining a price tag of $14.99 for a six-pack. An intriguing move, but, as I later discovered, one justified by the beer’s quality.

The beer itself, poured into a tulip glass, presents a fully hazy, burnt orange hue, crowned with an impressive rocky, yellowish foam. The head, persistent and substantial, leaves an abundance of lacing on the glass as one indulges. Despite the smaller can size, Just Outstanding proves its worth on the visual front.


The olfactory experience of this IPA is nothing short of remarkable. The aroma unfolds with notes of crème brûlée, caramel, vanilla, fresh orange, red mango, fresh mint, and ripe strawberry. It’s a complex and enticing bouquet that adds to the anticipation. The beer’s super soft water profile imparts a silkiness and heavy mineral character, setting the stage for what lies ahead.


Taking the first sips, it becomes apparent that the recipe for Just Outstanding remains unchanged since my initial encounter in 2010. Previously available only in single 22-ounce bombers, the transition to the 12-ounce can format is a game-changer for those seeking a more fridge-friendly option. The flavor profile delivers a harmonious interplay of caramel dessert and fresh bread, juxtaposed with hints of ruby red grapefruit and bitter orange peel. The richness of dessert flavors and a moderate kettle hop bitterness are skillfully integrated, avoiding an excessive emphasis on IBUs or reliance on aroma hops. The execution is impeccable, offering a nostalgic nod to the chewy, caramel-balanced IPAs of yesteryear.


Just Outstanding maintains a firm body and excellent balance, with a subtle silkiness attributed to its water profile. The beer avoids any excessive bitterness, and the alcohol content is well-concealed, contributing to a smooth and enjoyable drinking experience. It’s a testament to the beer’s craftsmanship and adherence to the classic IPA characteristics.


In summary, Kern River’s Just Outstanding IPA, despite lacking the cutting-edge flair of contemporary brews, stands as a timeless recipe that has weathered the years. The transition to the 12-ounce can format makes it more accessible and a worthwhile addition to the list of favorite IPAs. This beer is a classic in every sense, offering a taste of the past with an execution that remains top-notch. It has earned its place as a must-try for IPA enthusiasts, and the recent packaging change only enhances its appeal.