There’s never a shortage of new IPAs to try, as seemingly every new brewery debuts with one and veteran breweries retool their IPA recipes. This mixed sixer of new-to-can-and-bottle options has been tiding us through winter and could easily transition through to spring sipping:
Bissell Brothers Reciprocal: Canned since early September 2015, this multifaceted IPA brewed with all-Australian hops is characteristic of the flavorful, dynamic beers we’ve come to expect from this Portland, Maine brewery. Big chive and Vidalia onion notes balloon off the pour, with some tropical, sweet melon hop scents underneath adding dimension. On the sip, the silky mouthfeel facilitates an easy transition from white onion to sunny peach, clementine and unsweetened orange juice hop flavors. The bitterness is present but restrained, leaving lingering citrus on the lips.
Mother Road Tower Station: The Flagstaff, Arizona-based brewery is one of my favorites for patio pizza delivery, and now I can enjoy its IPA in tallboy cans. Tower Station pours a hazy, light golden color, emitting soft garlic, orange blossom and herbal cilantro hop aromas. The garlic hop note carries through to the easy-drinking sip, then synchs up with light orange peel and floral citrus blossom hops toward the swallow. Bitterness is smooth but layers atop itself after a few sips, though it never impedes this 7.3% beer’s drinkability.
Boston Beer Sam Adams Nitro IPA: Whether you enjoy IPAs carbonated with nitrogen gas is a personal preference; some people aren’t a fan of the silky mouthfeel, saying it dulls hop bitterness and flavor. Try it for yourself, though, with this offering from the newly canned and draft Sam Adams Nitro Project line. When you pour the beer, you’ll notice the cascading, tiramisu layers effect that characterizes nitro beers; the aroma it emits is quiet and on the rustic, woody hop side with a touch of freshly mowed grass. Neutral crackerlike malts start the sip before onion skin and citrus pith hop flavors emerge; firm bitterness arrives before the swallow and lingers without big bubbles to wash it away.
Rogue 6 Hop IPA: This new 22-ounce series of multihopped beers from Rogue showcases the brewery’s proprietary hop varieties (with names like Liberty, Freedom, Newport, Rebel, etc.). Each of four beers in the series is brewed with a specific number of hop varietals (four, six, seven and eight) with corresponding ABVs (4.4%, 6.6, 7.7, 8.8). Having tried all four, 6 Hop stands out as the best constructed beer of the bunch, offering sunny, orange and grapefruit skin hop aroma and flavor with a relatively drinkable ABV and solid supporting honey cracker malt base.
The Hop Concept Hull Melon & Blanc: You may recognize The Hop Concept (a Port Brewing/Lost Abbey side brand) from its Hop Freshener series: Tropical & Juicy, Dank & Sticky, etc. This next series explores not hop flavor families but specific varietals, beginning with this IPA hopped with Hull Melon and Hallertau Blanc. It pours notably clear for a dry-hopped beer, while delicate aromas of honeydew, bright tropical fruit rinds and young, green acorn waft off the glass. The honeydew melon flavor gives way on the sip to grapefruit pith and moderate bitterness at the close. Can a double IPA be refreshing? This one’s juicy mouthfeel makes it seem so.
Hermitage Simcoe: In case you haven’t learned enough about hop varietals from Rogue and The Hop Concept, step up to this single-hop IPA from San Jose, California’s Hermitage Brewing Co. The aroma is balanced between malts and hops, with grassy, piney and wet straw hop notes riding over cereal-like grain scents. Bitter, leafy green hop flavor bristles the tongue from the get-go before toasty, almost nutty barley malt flavors emerge a beat later; it’s even-keeled and balanced overall, with restrained bitterness. Simcoe hop flavor (some lemon skin and wet pine) lingers more after the swallow than on the initial sip.