Tag Archives: India Pale Ale

Deschutes Brewery Pinedrops IPA

The second beer that I ended up with because of HyVee’s evil Fuel Saver program was Deschutes Brewery’s Pinedrops IPA:


This beer pours a lot lighter than Fresh Squeezed IPA. Therefore, I would classify this as a more traditional IPA versus the emerging American Pale Ale style of beer.

However, the light body does not provide a good sounding board for either the alcohol (6.5% ABV) or bitterness (70 IBU). Perhaps it is from the wide variety of hops used— Nugget, Northern Brewer, Chinook, Centennial, and Equinox hops—or the general level of bitterness, but this beer leaves a lingering after taste that is not particularly pleasant.

It reminds me, unfortunately, of a lot of early craft beer IPAs that left you with the feeling of having drank some bong water with your beer. Those brewers were trying to mask deficiencies in skill by piling on flavors and aromas. Having drank well done beers from Deschutes Brewery before I know there is no need for these brewers to be hiding because the talent is present in the brewhouse.

Also, with a name like Pinedrops I was expecting a heavy, resinous profile that almost made you think you were breathing in the air of a temperate coniferous rain forest. Was that too much to ask?

At this stage of the craft brewing industry in America we expect more from our IPAs:

One Mug Homebrew

See what others are saying about Deschutes Brewery Pinedrops IPA at Beeradvocate.

Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed IPA

HyVee’s Fuel Saver program is the devil. You walk into the liquor store thinking you are going to pick up a fifteen pack of All Day IPA and instead you end up with something completely different because you saved $0.25 off per gallon of gas. This is how I ended up with two six-packs of different beers from Deschutes Brewery. In my defense, a total of $0.50 off per gallon of gas ends up saving me $10 when I fill up with the maximum of twenty gallons. Easy to do when road trip summers are here.

When Deschutes Brewery first came into the Iowa market I tried several of their beers and came away liking them in general. It’s been a while and I have not been tempted since for various reasons. The first beer I cracked open was Fresh Squeezed IPA:

Fresh SqueezedI had passed this beer on numerous occasions, read the label, and thought that with a name like Fresh Squeezed it should have been a fresh hopped beer. Damn marketing.

The beer pours a darker amber color than most IPAs, which makes me consider this more of an American Pale Ale. What does that mean? Whatever marketing wants it to mean, but in general I think it means more malt and body than a traditional IPA.

All of this extra body means that the beer drinks a lot easier than its 6.4% ABV and 60 IBU would suggest. Being near the golden ratio—in my opinion—of ABV to IBU the extra body of the beer hides some of the downsides of having more bitterness and bite. It essentially mellows out the more extreme elements of the alcohol and hops.  Fresh Squeezed is brewed with a combination of Citra, Mosaic, and Nugget hops. None of these really stand out as the driving element leaving the profile a little muddled or muted. Again, I was kind of bummed that this was not a fresh hopped beer.

In summary, you can do a lot worse in terms of mainstream pale ales and you ought to give Fresh Squeezed a try if you are looking to broaden your pale ale palate:

Two Mug PurchaseSee what others are saying about Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed IPA at Beeradvocate.

New Belgium Slow Ride IPA

When you cut back on drinking beer you begin to curate your selection a little bit more because each bottle seems like part of a zero sum game. I did not give up drinking so much as curtail it down to a few bottles per week. Moderation if ever there was such a thing.

If there is one trend that has made it easier for me to stop brewing my own beer—never mind the entire drinking a lot less beer—has been the emergence of “session” IPAs. The adjective session has lost a lot of meaning in the past couple of years, which is no surprise given the wide ranging style differences that can occur under previously well understood definitions like IPA or stout.

New Belgium Brewery recently came out with Slow Ride IPA. It was debuted at Winter Park in January and made its national appearance soon after. BTW, New Belgium is now the official craft brewer for Winter Park. I think once craft breweries start becoming the “official brewery” of anything it means they are not really craft in the manner that many of us think.

Slow Ride is definitely a lighter IPA coming in at 4.5% ABV and 40 IBU:

New Belgium Slow Ride IPA

Slow Ride uses Mosaic, a well known hop variety, and Nelson Sauvin, which I had never heard of until visiting New Belgium’s website. It’s a hop grown in New Zealand. A lot of the descriptors sound like “Sideways” wine guy words, but it seems like the main current of description is that it is a fruity hop that imparts white wine like notes. Okay, I’ll bite but it seemed like a pretty standard dry hop profile to me when I drank a couple of bottles. Call me unsophisticated. It won’t hurt my feelings.

Slow RIde comes close to the golden ratio of 1:1 ABV to IBU that I have been fiddling with for a while now. If your beer is 4.5% ABV it should be 45 IBU. It seems to hold true that beers like this are very balanced if the body of the beer can hold up its end of the bargain.

This is where I feel like New Belgium beers have really been falling down lately. The body of the beers has been lacking. You could say the beers are thin, but for a product that is mostly water even in the thickest instances it is not really the most appropriate descriptor. What is lacking is interest. Some beers have it, even if the alcohol and bitterness are not at stratospheric levels, and a lot of other beers do not. This is where true brewing talent shines.

Overall, this is a solid effort and if you want something easy to drink on a warm day that actually tastes like beer grab a pint of Slow Ride:

Two Mug Purchase

Upslope Brewing Company India Pale Ale

I recently wrote about Upslope Brewing’s Pale Ale and today I am going to regurgitate some thoughts on the same brewery’s India Pale Ale:

Upslope India Pale Ale

What? A pale ale and an India pale ale? What the heck is going on here in the world of generously hopped ales?

The general difference between the two beers is that an IPA will be hopped to a higher degree and contain more alcohol relative to volume, e.g. the IBU and ABV ratings will be higher. This is not true in all cases as the style guides for beer have been blown apart in the past few years.

Upslope’s IPA actually tastes like a breed of beer I am going to refer to as Colorado pale ale. Why restrict ourselves to monikers created during a time when there were not 3,000 breweries in the United States? The beer has a little more body than a traditional pale ale, but it’s also hopped more and comes in with a greater boozy punch than a lighter pale ale. Colorado pale ales have a bigger hop bouquet than a traditional IPA, which is the result of using newer varieties of hops like Citra, Amarillo, and so on. It’s a distinct beer, in my opinion, that is typified by Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale.

Upslope’s IPA falls short of the benchmark set by Dale’s Pale Ale in one primary area: the hop aromas and flavors are kind of muddled, which when you think about it is the sole reason for an IPA to exist. It’s about the hops, man! There is some resin and some citrus, but nothing really shines through as the signature note of the beer. Honestly, it’s the same problem I have been struggling with recently when it comes to my homebrew recipes for a House Pale Ale. The hop profile is either over the top—usually from a single hop recipe—or muddled—the rest of my recipes using a blend of hops.

That is not say that Upslope’s IPA is a bad beer in any way shape or form. Quite the contrary, but the bar for this particular “family” of beers is pretty high in the U.S. right now when you consider how much effort is being expended to brew varying pale ales. Overall, it’s a middle of the road result:

Two Mug Purchase

New Belgium Ranger IPA

It was Memorial Day and I was looking for a beer in a compliant container. I needed beer in cans to satisfy The Man and his desire for safety. Okay, I think that if people are going to be drinking in a public place, like a park, it is a good idea to drink from cans so that no one ends up taking a spill onto some broken glass.

Unfortunately, my go-to canned beer—Founders Brewing’s All Day IPA—was out of stock. Sucked back into the unenviable position of choosing amongst the masses of options my hand fell onto a twelve pack of New Belgium Brewery’s Ranger IPA.

Making its debut in bottles in the first part of 2010, Ranger IPA was part of a wave of beers that started to increase the hop content in somewhat more mass market beers. Prior to this time a lot of hoppier beers were reserved for taprooms and more localized markets.

Several years later, how does Ranger IPA hold up:

Ranger IPA

This beer does not drink as bitter as its 70 IBU rating would suggest. Chinook hops are a smooth addition to any beer and seem capable of imparting a resinous bitterness without overpowering every other flavor. One of my favorite extract recipes from Northern Brewer is the Chinook IPA, which is a single hop beer showcasing that particular variety. In fact, I have a keg of Chinook IPA that should be ready to serve in the first week of June or so.

Ranger IPA is also dry-hopped which leads to a burst of aroma when your nose first hits the glass. With the very resinous notes of Cascade hops you expect a more bitter punch from the beer, but because dry hopping does not contribute to the bitterness it is just not there. It’s kind of a trick that is common to many dry hopped beers. I used to think this was a gimmick, but I have come over to the side of dry hopping and believe that it allows for another layer of complexity in the beer without going down the tastes/smells like a headshop route. No one wants to think they are drinking bong water.

If you can overlook the campy Beer Ranger marketing ploy give it a try. It’s a very good exemplar of a modern American version of an IPA.

Recently I have been pretty harsh on the beers coming out of New Belgium Brewery, e.g. Snapshot or Spring Blonde, but Ranger IPA is somewhat of a redemptive beer for the brewery. It shows that a properly focused beer can come out of a rapidly expanding brewery with national distribution intent.

Purchase 3 Mug Rating

Summit India Pale Ale & Frost Line Rye

The beers of Summit Brewing have a special place in my heart. I went to college in the state of Minnesota and it is in college where my taste in beer truly evolved. Some would say devolved when witnessing my love of cheap American lagers on hot summer days, but I digress.

Along with New Belgium’s Fat Tire and Newcastle Nut Brown Ale, Summit’s Extra Pale Ale was a local craft beer that you drank on those occasions when Busch Light from a cobra tap was not going to cut it for some reason. Over time as I have widened my beer horizons and as the number of breweries has exploded in the U.S. I have forgotten the great work being done by the long time craft brewers at Summit.

No more! With my keezer out of commission due to a faulty gas setup and no homebrew available to drink I trudged off to the liquor store in search of brewed wares. My eye fell to the Summit section primarily because of Frost Line Rye:

Frost Line Rye

Brewed as a seasonal in late winter, Frost Line Rye is a heavily rye focused beer—as opposed to beers that use a little rye—and it has a unique hop profile. Rye is said to give beers a spicy or peppery profile. I have brewed many extract rye recipes and used rye as a steeping grain. I have not, however, really noticed a pronounced spicy or peppery profile from these beers. Frost Line Rye did not have that flavor profile either. It was however dark, but not overbearing, with a unique body, attributable to the heavy rye influence, that was a nice springboard for the hops.

Frost Line Rye incorporates three different hops in two different ways. Summit and Citra are employed traditionally in the boil to give the beer its bitterness, which at 55 IBU counters the 5.8% ABV nicely. Citra and a so-called Experimental Hop #01210 are dry hopped to really bring out a bouquet of hop aromas that would be lost in the boil. Citra is one of my absolute favorite hops to employ by dry hopping. I find that it actually loses a lot of its characteristics when used in the boil, which is something I am going to talk about when I discuss my latest attempt at a house ale recipe.

Overall, Frost Line Rye is a good beer that an aficionado of dark and hoppy will want to give a go.

Purchase 3 Mug RatingSummit India Pale Ale’s presence in my cart was something of a surprise as I could have sworn that I grabbed the Extra Pale Ale six-pack. Not a bad surprise, just not what I was expecting when I got home and stocked the refrigerator. Oh well. What about India Pale Ale:

India Pale Ale

Apparently, India Pale Ale is no longer brewed and has been replace by True Brit IPA. All right. So, I either got an old six-pack of beer or I am drinking one of the last examples. Interesting.

India Pale Ale pours like an IPA. What I mean by that is you get to see the copper orange color and in a moment the first hop aromas hit your nose. There is absolutely nothing unexpected with this beer. It is a textbook example of an IPA. The American IPA is synonymous with the rebirth of brewing and the growth of craft brewing in the U.S. It is wicked easy to understand why this style was such a departure from the pale golden swill foisted upon us by the macro-lager overlords.

It’s thicker in body with an almost bread-like quality that lingers in your mouth while the hop aromas hit your olfactory senses full steam. After you swallow there is residual hop bitterness. Can you imagine what it was like to be the first people throwing down pints of a beer like this when the rest of the world thought that beer was a choice between Miller Lite or Bud Light? Michelob if you were feeling particularly rakish that evening.

Like Frost Line Rye this is a well-done beer.

Purchase 3 Mug RatingAfter realizing my error in not grabbing Extra Pale Ale, which was the beer I remember drinking on summer nights during college, I know that I will have to make a return trip to the liquor store.

Point Beer IPA Variety Pack

When is something a sampler pack and when is something a variety pack? I do not know, but Point Beer, the brand of Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin, calls it a variety pack. I came across the IPA Variety Pack at the liquor store, along with a few other beers, because a small leak in my keezer setup vented all of my gas and I did not realize the problem until Friday night. No beer for me over Easter weekend.

As a sucker for the sampler…er variety pack I could not help myself. Contained within the box were four IPAs: White IPA, One Shot IPA, Spruce Tip IPA, and Peach Mango IPA.

Spruce Tip IPA was a surprise:

Point Spruce Tip IPA

I wanted to dislike this beer before I even had a sip because I thought spruce tips was another gimmick ingredient that would not contribute in any way to the final product. I have had beers made with cacti and invasive vines and whatever you can scrounge from the forest. Rarely, if ever, is there a flavor note that is present where I say, “Damn it, that foraged vine is outstanding in this beer.”

I am not ready to go there with Spruce Tip IPA, but I felt that the real earthy forest notes from the spruce tips were a perfect flavor pairing with Cascade hops. The beer was near my sweet spot in terms of bitterness at 45 IBU. It was good.

Two Mug PurchaseWhite IPA had a lot of potential:

Point White IPA

This beer intrigued me because it uses Sorachi Ace hops from Japan, which heretofore I cannot remember having in any other beer.

The primary failing of this beer is that the body of the beer disappeared under the bitterness of the hops. At 40 IBU, my sweet spot for bitterness, I thought that this would not be the case. However, brewing a beer in the “white” style does not leave the brewer a lot of room to bring hop flavors or aromas forward without the whole house coming down around themselves.

I feel like this is a beer that could be brewed similar to the All Day IPA from Founders Brewing. There is a nugget of potential in this beer:

Purchased One Mug RatingLike White IPA, I was intrigued by the ingredient list of One Shot IPA:

Point One Shot

Like White IPA, One Shot IPA used a hop that I heretofore had not been exposed. This time it was Calypso hops.

I cannot say if it was the hops or the structure of the body of the beer, but I walked away with an impression of something being burnt. Maybe it was the lightly toasted Vienna malt in a lighter body that came through with those notes of charcoal and acrylamides.

Overall, not a fan.

Purchased One Mug RatingWhat about Peach Mango IPA:

Peach Mango IPA

All I could think about when I sipped on this beer was that I must have dropped a peach Jolly Rancher hard candy into the glass. It was sickeningly sweet. It was sweet to the point that no amount of alcohol or bitterness could break through the syrupy feeling coating my mouth.

This is a common thread among a lot of “fruit” beers that I try from commercial or home brewers. If a can of fruit is added after primary fermentation it just leaves an artificial sweetness to the beer that is offensive.

Peach Mango IPA was a failure.

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