Some prefer the grape, some the hop. Never the twain shall meet. Or shall they?
I’m a longtime wine guy, but if the craft beer movement keeps up this pace of relentless innovation, who knows? I might switch sides.
I recently tasted some brand new craft beers from around the country, in particular a baker’s dozen of IPAs, the hottest category in beer. It’s a great style for those of us who love higher-acid wines, given that IPAs get much of their kick from a healthy bitterness.
Citra Hero IPA from Chicago’s Revolution Brewing, named for the hop it’s made from, is a great summer beer, medium-bodied, complex, and full of citrus flavors. The same Windy City brewery also makes the stunning IZ Enuf Imperial IPA, which has a thick, creamy mouth-feel and an intense dose of bitter burnt caramel, with a long finish. (Imperial IPAs are slightly stronger in the alcohol department.) Revolution says it’s “the kind of beer you’ll need just one of,” perhaps the first time an American beer company has explicitly suggested going easy on its product. Sales be damned!
The folks at Oregon’s Rogue Farms seem to know what they’re doing across the board, and my favorite was their 7 Hop IPA. This racily acidic beer tastes like fall, with stewed apricot and maybe a touch of spice like turmeric and saffron. It’s savory and has a lot of food matching potential.
Also autumnal and extremely pleasing is San Tan Kilohop Ludicrous India Pale Ale, made in Arizona. Buy it if you like the idea of sweet roasted yams, a hint of curry, ripe peach, all tied up in tartness. It made me hungry.
The Deschutes Brewery Pinedrops IPA ranks as one of a kind. It sports an earthy, barnyard nose—this is where being a wine guy comes in handy, because we like a little of that—and moves on to the fragrant and perfectly bitter taste of pine tar. Hints of sweetness provide balance, and surprise.
Enjoy these high-toned suds as we move into summer’s last, most glorious phase.