From flickr user epic ever
It’s February, and Bell’s Hopslam and Troegs Nugget Nectar are hitting shelves as I type this (Troegs just rereleased Nugget Nectar in their tasting room today). As hoppy beer arms race rages on, just as it has for years, some breweries are rethinking what it means to write an IPA recipe.
From the Washington Post:
Wildeman Farmhouse IPA, from Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, is an IPA fermented with a Belgian saison yeast and seasoned with a secret spice that the brewery declines to identify. It was originally brewed for In de Wildeman, a beer bar in Amsterdam. The reintroduction of the beer, this time as a year-around brand, gives Flying Dog two Belgian-style IPAs. Raging Bitch is fruitier; Wildeman has a dry, peppery, almost tannic finish.
Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. in Portland, as part of its Rotator series, has released Spiced IPA, a collaboration with Paul Sangster and Chris Stawney of the San Diego-based homebrewers club QUAFF, Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity. “A year ago, we asked the members to develop a new IPA. We didn’t tell them who we were, just that it was a big national brewer,” said Widmer brewmaster Joe Casey.
The winner, chosen from among 25 recipes, includes malty Assam black tea, ginger, cinnamon, clove, star anise, black pepper and cardamom. The flavorings are blended by a Portland company called Tao of Tea. In their raw form, the ingredients are immensely fragrant, like a freshly baked fruitcake. In the beer, the ginger emerges strongly up front, the black pepper dominates the finish.
Sam Adams Tasman Red is one of the better beers in this class I’ve had. A fantastic red IPA, it takes the bucketful of hops in each bottle and pairs it with a thoughtful approach to malt. Nugget Nectar gets it right for similar reasons, even if it’s closer to an IPA than the new breed of spicy beers (though it is billed as an imperial amber).
All of this raises the question many brewers have long asked: where does one style begin and another end?