Underrated IPAs, when beer recipes change and Hopinions
- Underrated IPAs: IPAs are arguably the most ubiquitous craft beer style. While there is variety in the style and brewers interpretation of it, they are commonly characterised by a fuller body, flavour, bitterness and alcohol content. Of course, most people know the history too, that the style was a variant of ale that was overhopped so that the flavour was sustained on long journeys to India in the 19th and 20th century. In the 21st century, the American-style IPA is the most common, that is, those IPAs brewed by US craft brewers, predominantly using American hops. (of course there is regional variants, but that’s for another day perhaps). Within the UK there are a number of top IPAs such as Northern Monk’s New World IPA, Magic Rock’s Cannonball, nearly any IPA from The Kernel and more recently Beavertown’s Lupuloid. But there are also some absolutely amazing IPAs being brewed that sometimes don’t get the recognition or platitudes. Siren Craft Brew can brew a very good IPA. Their Soundwave IPA is part of their core range and is simply amazing – vibrant and flavoursome. I’ve also had a few of their recent IPA releases; Ten Dollar Shake and Ryesing Tides IPAs which were both fantastic. I had a moment only last week where I was craving an IPA and went to Waitrose on my way home from work. I looked past the Goose IPA and Jaipur and picked up Single-Wide IPA by US brewery, Boulevard Brewing Co from Kansas City. It was just what I was looking for; nice full and smooth mouth feel, caramel malts and light citrus flavours with a nice clean bitter finish. Another well-made and enjoyable IPA. Are there any other IPAs you are enjoying at the moment that are maybe a little unsung?
- Recipe changes: when I really got into craft beer, the beloved red ale was a style I was particularly drawn too. I really enjoyed the London Fields Brewery’s Love Not War, as well as Five Points Hook Island Red and while not strictly a red ale, Beavertowns 8 Ball. The Hook Island Red I remember having a big, almost spicy flavour, closer to a rye IPA and at 6% ABV was relatively strong (at least I considered it strong in those heady days of 2014). Another beer I felt a fondness too back in the early days was Camden Pale Ale. I remember it as a very drinkable 4% pale ale that was well balanced with light floral and citrus notes. Almost a lighter version of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I tried a Hook Island Red just last week and it was smoother and sweeter than I remember but, importantly still retained the essence of the beer I remember and no less enjoyable. Five Points replied to my observation on twitter explaining that they are using natural ingredients and the flavours could be from Amarillo in the dry hop. The fact that beer is made with natural ingredients that may vary is an important factor on why flavours may be different over time. My most recent Camden Pale Ale was last summer and it was less floral and more piney than I remember and after tweeting about it, discovered the recipe had changed to include a lot more Simcoe hops than previous versions. Another beer that has changed recipes but kept the name is Beavertown’s Neck Oil, which started as a homebrew mild and is now a 4.3% Session IPA, although I must confess I never tried any of the earlier variants. Are these beers the same they once were? No. Should I care? Probably more than I do. It would appear breweries can change beer recipes to such an extent that the beer is completely different, yet keep the name and the branding.
- Hopinions: one of the reasons I started Three Bullet Tuesday was to share my thoughts and start a conversation. And it seems, in this case to have worked. A few weeks back one of my posts was about what influences me when it comes to beer choices. It seemed that resonated with a few people (and was my most read blog post at that time), including Steve and Martin from the Beer O’Clock Show Hopinions podcast and Stu McKinley from Yeastie Boys. For those not familiar, Hopinions is a relatively new podcast, building on the success of the Beer O’Clock Show podcast. While the latter was more focused on discovering different beers the new show is focused on discussing and debating key topics in the beer world. Their most recent episode, for instance, discussed the CAMRA Revitalisation initiative. I was invited to be a guest on their most recent podcast which covered the subject of what determines beer choices. As per the format of the show, Steve tweeted a poll Sunday night inviting people to vote; ‘What most influences our beer buying decisions’, with four options; Hype, recommendations, brewery I trust, price. We recorded the podcast last night and it will be available to listen this Friday evening at 6pm, keep an ear out for it! You can find out more about the Beer O’Clock Show podcasts at their website or subscribe on itunes.