Monday, September 7, 2020

A Quart of Ale± #11 Moving on over to craft. American Style IPA

A Quart of Ale± #11
Moving on over to craft. 
American Style IPA
Part 2

First, there was IPA. In the 18th century, English beer, on its way to India was highly hopped. It became known as India pale ale and went down well with the soldiers and later found favour with drinkers at home. 

Two hundred years later, just like the empire, it was slipping into oblivion, until the Americans revived it by using their more aromatic and flavourful hops and more of them. And so the American IPA was born. And that led to a revival in the UK.

This is Part 2 (we published Part 1 last week) and here we focus on some excellent American style IPA produced here in Ireland by the likes of Kinnegar, Whiplash, Blacks and Yellowbelly.

Blacks “Ace of Haze” DDH Cryo New England IPA, 4.2%, 440ml can, Bradleys Cork
The hard-working Maudeline and Sam Black.

I have to say straight up that that this New Englander is a lovely beer, very drinkable.

But what’s a New England IPA? Blacks say: Characterised by juicy, citrus and floral flavours and a smoother less piney taste than some other IPAs you might be familiar with, New England IPA is a style that became popular in Vermont USA in the 2010s. Hazy in appearance with a soft mouthfeel, NEIPA's are brewed without adding hops to the boil and with the use of specific yeast strains to achieve the desired result. Often described as a more fruit forward IPA with lower perceived bitterness but massively hop forward with flavours and aromas derived from the use of dry hopping techniques.

This NEIPA (hardly an abbreviation!) is a hazy yellow. It weighs in at 4.2% so it certainly a session contender. No shortage of hops in the mix and it’s the fruit, citrus and exotic, that makes its mark rather than any bitterness (which is there, in the background). Very drinkable though and sure to gather up lots of fans. By the way, Blacks have at least one other Haze edition.

They say: This banging beer was brewed with passion and an absurd amount of cryogenically frozen Mosaic, Citra and Simcoe hops not forgetting a touch of inspiration from some rock classics that are commonly heard on the brewery floor on brew days. The malt bill of Barley, Oats and Wheat gives plenty of body and character but we have kept the ABV on the lower end for IPA's so you can enjoy more than 1 or 2 in a sitting.

Kinnegar “Crossroads” American Style IPA 6.2%, 440ml can Bradley’s of Cork

Colour is close to amber, plenty of bubbles rising (naturally carbonated), white head hangs around for a while. Good hoppy backbone carrying tropical fruit flavours across the palate and into the very satisfying finish. Qualifies as American style because it is rich in citrus and tropical fruit flavours with a touch of pine thrown in. One of the best cans of IPA you’re likely to come across and you can taste why this is one of their core range. 

Kinnegar’s craft beers are brewed in a new brewery in Letterkenny.  “Our roots are deeply embedded in the hilly fields and farms of northeast Donegal. This is the perfect environment for the way we make beer. We don’t filter or pasteurise, and we let our industrious little friends, the yeast, carbonate the beer naturally during fermentation.” We visited the brewery last autumn and you may read all about it here.

Originally named “Roadtrip” when brewed as a 20th birthday celebration of McHugh’s legendary Dublin off-licences, Crossroads is the Donegal brewery’s tribute to the men and women of the county’s diaspora who, like the McHughs, have made their mark on the wider world.

Whiplash Rollover Session IPA 3.8%, 330ml can, Bradley’s

Pale yellow colour with a  short-lived white head over a hazy body. Citrus fronts the aromatics. And the quartet of hops dominate the palate. Amazing that this has so much hops and still weighs in at less than 4.00% abv. Quite a concentration of hops then, before a lip-smacking finalé. “Now, that’s a beer,” my tasting companion declared (having “suffered” earlier through a Radler and a sour). 

They say: Same hop rate as our DIPA’s, less than half the alcohol. A very heavily hopped Session IPA: this comes at you with buckets of Simcoe, Ekuanot, Citra and Mosaic hops with a light touch of malts and an easy crushable body. Unfiltered, hazy, hoppy and juicy – Rollover is a New England inspired IPA without the heavy alcohol in tow.

Yellowbelly “Citra Pale Ale” American Pale Ale, 4.8%, 440ml can, Bradleys Cork

Hazy yellow is the colour here, a white head (size and length depends a lot on how you pour, probably best if on draught). You’ll probably de-juice that Citra Hops are used here. Head Brewer Declan Nixon has also employed German and Belgian malts. I think he’s judged this to a “T” and has come up with a really well-balanced beer.

A hint of pine in the aromas and this smooth drinking beer has citrus flavours, is very pleasant on the palate and, with all that, plus the help of a modest enough alcohol count of 4.8%, has that second glass appeal for sure.

Let us hear what the Wexford crew have to say for themselves: Our Citra Pale Ale is brewed with the finest German & Belgian malts, fermented with a super clean American ale yeast and dry hopped to the gills with Citra. The resulting beer should be enjoyed as fresh as possible to appreciate the grapefruit and pine aroma and super clean finish.

They regard it as a flagship beer. Citra Pale Ale can be enjoyed year-round on draught or in can from your favourite bars, restaurants and off-licences. It was voted Best Beer in Ireland 2019 – Beoir Awards. A very good one indeed.

Wicklow Wolf Mammoth IPA, 6.2%, 440ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

Colour of this West Coast IPA is amber with a nice fluffy head that sinks fairly slowly. It gets its name because a mammoth amount of Simcoe, Chinook, Cascade and Eureka! have been used to pump up the fruit. And the hops take the lead in the aromas (floral, fruit, pine) as well. 

Very much floral and citrus in the palate as you’d expect but no shortage of malt either (Pale, Cara Ruby the varieties used). Rather a muscular beer (compared, say, to Trouble Brewing’s Ambush) but the muscle’s not out of control and the Mammoth will find a welcome in any good beer circle. Hops used are Simcoe, Cascade, Chinook, Eureka! And, take heed, the IBU is a stiff 60. Serve at 8 degrees.

9 White Deer Stag IPA 5.0%, 500ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

Amber is the colour of this Gluten Free IPA from the Gaeltacht - you have to peer in to see the bubbles. The head is white and sticks around. Aromas hint of malts and hops. Big hop flavours on the palate yet the bitterness is not over the top at all, nice balance with the malts. Stag is an American style IPA according to the label. I’m thinking it fits snugly between two continents. Could mid-Atlantic be a style?

They say: A Classic IPA, using vast quantities of new age hops, this gluten free IPA is full of flavour. Hop usage is late in the boil which gives big flavours and aroma without big bitterness. IPAs never serviced the gluten free market but that is now changed, and what a beer to change it with.  A well balanced quaffable IPA bursting with flavour and aroma.

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