IPAs are so yesterday, right? IPAs are boring, right? IPAs are the opposite of innovation, right?
Single hop. Dry hop. Wet hop. SMaSH. First wort. Mosaic. Amarillo. Citra. English. American. It seems that IPAs are evolving as quickly as the industry that made it famous. Where hops used to be the star of the IPA show, hops often play a secondary or tertiary part alongside an incredible complex set of flavors and aromas in today’s IPAs. Meanwhile, farmers continue to breed new variants of hops giving brewers plenty of new toys to play with each season.
A wonderful example of IPA diversity arrives from from Breckenridge Brewery. With an homage to fine chefery, Breckenridge Brewery has recently brewed IPA three ways:
471 IPA Barrel Series: Eureka! Double IPA Dry Hopped and Aged in Whiskey Barrels. (11.2% ABV / 70 IBU)
You might exclaim, “An aged IPA?” Yes, that’s usually a sure-fire way of ruining an IPA — hoppy beers are not meant to be aged. However, in this case the dry hopped Eureka! arrives in the beer after it has been aged for two months in whiskey barrels. The barrel-aging infuses oak and whiskey taste and then it gets thrown back into the tanks for a wealth of dry hops. Eureka! hops offer a terrific aromas and enjoy flavor notes comprised of strong herbs, pine, mint, and a healthy dose of citrus. That strong hop flavor in addition to the whiskey aging provides for a super complex flavor profile, yet the beer is super smooth and amazingly easy drinking.
Brewery Lane Season: Imperial White IPA brewed with fresh cut lemongrass (9.0% ABV / 67 IBU)
Named for the Breckenridge Brewery Farmhouse location on Brewery Lane in Littleton, CO (Denver), this Imperial White IPA is perfect for bitter-appreciating beer drinkers, as well as those that enjoy beer that’s a little sweet and fruity. The Belgian Yeast provides flavors of banana, honey, and clove. The addition of Amarillo — an underrated hop, in my opinion — and Citra give it a nice pine and citrus flavor. Finally, the addition of lemongrass provides herbal tea-like flavor. In the end, the combination of yeast, hops, and lemongrass provide three distinct notes that work in complete sync — delicious!
Nitro Lucky U IPA (5.7% ABV / 68 IBU)
Much debate surround the infusion of nitrogen into an IPA. Many feel the nitrogen mutes the hops flavor. Lucky U includes four malts and seven hops, so the nitrogen works to effectively smooth the harsh edges of the otherwise robust hops, allowing for the flavor to shine without overpowering the malt. The foamy head is a nice addition, too. It’s great straight from the can, but it’s really a fun pour.
Attend any fest and you will notice that it is seemingly difficult to find standard IPAs anymore. First, brewers went to other beers to showcase new brewing styles and recipes. But, now it’s the IPA that is making a strong comeback and it’s coming to shelves in an array of varieties. Breckenridge Brewery is not the only brewery embarking on this new hoppy journey, but its IPA three-ways, as this writer has deemed it, proves to be a terrific, delectable example of what’s going on in today’s IPA world.