Saturday, May 13, 2017

All Hail the IPLs

Like any beer drinking Californian, I love Hoppy Beers. This is the State of IPAs, the big bold Hoppy Beers that make some Breweries nervous to come into the California Beer Market. Because if your Hoppy Beer(s) don't hold up to what we're used to out here, a majority of people will burn you for it. But even in this Land of Hopportunity I have noticed a shift in the market place, people are starting to go away from the overly hopped brews. Double and Triple IPAs that used to fly off the shelf are taking an extra week or two to sell out. The richness, sometimes considered sweetness, that can be found in IPAs (or Ales in general) is starting to become overwhelming to folks, so they are starting to look more towards Lagers. 

Lighter bodied and much more crisp on the finish, Lagers are sometimes seen as lesser beers than Ales, but nothing could be further from the truth. Harder to make than Ales, with way more work for the Brewers than their malty counterparts, due to their fermentation at colder temperatures, Lagers are much more delicate to make. A style of Lager I have been enjoying more and more is IPLs, Indian Pale Lagers. A style of beer that has some really nice hoppiness, but doesn't have the malt mouthfeel and richness that Ales have. These beers allow the hop profile to linger nicely and still have the five to seven percent ABV found in a standard IPA. And as more and more hops become available to brewers, well unless you're talking about InBev buying all of South Africas' Hops and keeping them to themselves, I believe IPLs allow for fans of hops to taste them more. 

Part of the evolution of Hops over the last 5-10 years is a focus on them being more floral, more palatable than their bitter predecessors. The elegance that have been found in newer Hops can be sometimes lost in IPAs because of the rich malts that can be added to the beers. In Lagers, these beautiful, unique tasting Hops can be expressed more and highlighted on their own instead of being a costar to the malts. Beers like Sudwerk's Cascaderade highlights the fun flavors of the Cascade Hops, Saint Archer's Nelson IPA gives you the earthy citrus flavors of the Nelson Hop and Acoustic Ales' IPL is citrus forward with some slight floralness as well. These beers, and others like it, are the beers made for hop heads that are tired of having heavy IPAs. They can also serve as a way for someone who finds IPAs to be overly aggressive, to enjoy a Hoppy Beer.  

With summer time right around the corner, heavier beers are starting to be put away and lighter beers are coming out. When you're looking for something Hoppy but also something lighter, look for IPLs. They can give you the tasty Hop profile you're looking for, but won't weigh you down with malt. So all Hail the IPL, the beer that Hop Lovers may not know yet, but will soon love.

Friday, April 28, 2017


The beer world and the spirits world have never been so intertwined. You have beers that are aged in different spirit barrels, spirits that are being aged in different beer barrels. There are even spirits being made with the byproduct of making beer. And more popular now than ever; the Shot and a Beer (as the side/chaser) at happy hours and bars. So it is no surprise that when you add a little bit of a certain spirit to a beer the combination works splendidly. The combination was introduced to me 2 years ago when on a trip back to Louisville, Kentucky. While meeting with my good friend Aj at the Barret Bar I ordered a Stiegl Radler, now before you say anything yea a Radler, they are crisp, bright beers that are great when it is hot. And at the end of the Summer it is hot in Louisville, humidity is ridiculous! As the bartender brought the beer over she asked me “Would you like a shot of Gin in there?” It took me a second to respond to her question. Not because I wasn’t sure if I wanted the shot or not (of course the answer was yes), but I was asking myself “Why haven’t I thought of that before?!” 

For those of you unfamiliar with Stiegl Radler it is an Austrian beer that is a blend of 40% Stiegl lager and 60% grapefruit soda. The slight bitterness from the grapefruit, a little bit of fruitiness and the crispness of the lager makes for a very vibrant and refreshing beer. Gins can be very different; there are floral styles (lavender, rosemary, even rose petals), ones that have bold herbal characteristics (pine, sage or fennel/anise) and then there are citrusy styles (orange, lemon and sometimes grapefruit) and that is the style you want to use in a Radler. The addition of even more citrus flavors can take a little bit of the bitterness from the Radler away, add other vibrant flavors and bumps up that low ABV just a touch.

After enjoying the Beertail I would ask anyone I saw buying or drinking Radler “Have you tried that with Gin?”. Now you could also do this with Vodka. Since Vodka is supposed to be a neutral spirit, it would just add to the ABV. If you use a Citrus flavored one (Hanson of Sonoma Mandarin or Square One Bergamot), then you’re adding something to the party.  This introduction to the Radler Beertail made me ask one question; “What else can you do this with?” 

Avery El Gose (their lime and sea salt Gose), taste delicious with a Tequila Blanco or real subtle Mezcal Blanco. With the Tequila (something like Arette or Tapatio) you get that herbal Agave flavor that pops a little bit more thanks to the slat from the beer. And with the lime acidity, it tastes like a fresh Margarita. With the Mezcal (like Mezcal Vago or Fidencio); the bold, coating smokiness and the saltiness from the beer creates a really fun Yin and Yang concept on your palate. And of course the lime and Agave go well together.

Abita Purple Haze is a raspberry beer that goes well with white Rum (something like Cutwater Three Sheets or Diplomatico Blanco). The light coco notes and vanilla flavors from the Rums play very well with the slight raspberry tartness from the beer. And if you’re looking for a non-caffeinated version of an Irish Coffee; Old Rasputin and an Irish Whiskey (like Teeling small batch or West Work The Pogues) will do the trick! If you’re looking for something a little lighter in ABV than Old Raspy, then a beer like Mammoth Double Nut Brown or Figueroa Mountain Davy Brown Ale works like a charm.     

  As someone who enjoys both spirits and beer it has been fun finding ways to combine the two. These Beertails are a fun way to make a light version of a cocktail. And with summer coming up, I can see myself stocking up on Radlers, Goses and different spirits to add to them.