Week 7 — 52 Weeks of Restaurant Beer
1. Adding beers to your list just because:
- it’s new in your market and someone asked for it;
- your distributor is pushing it;
- it won a gold medal at a prestigious competition; or
- it got an “A” rating in a beer magazine review.
Only add beers to your list that, following careful consideration, you determine fill a needed position, match your food menu and restaurant concept/style, are fairly priced, and are of a quality that will complement your establishment.
2. Overloading one style category while other important styles are under-represented or non-existent.
Too many beer lists have a lot of duplication in common categories like Light and Pale American/Euro Lagers while coming up short in fuller-flavored copper-colored ales, brown ales, and Belgian ales that would better pair with the food served.
3. Featuring extreme beers without regard for what they might pair with on your food menu.
While wonderful creations, extreme beers are typically so big and bold that you will have a tough time pairing them well with your cuisine. Most extreme beers are so richly flavored and high in alcohol that they will absolutely stomp on more subtle cuisine.
4. Offering mostly national brands, while ignoring local craft breweries.
Your customers can purchase national brands anywhere. While many of them are quite good, they are also quite common. Most parts of the US now offer plenty of high quality local and regional brands that are not so commonly available outside your area. This fact makes them excellent choices for use on restaurant beer lists. Splashing in liberal amounts of local and regional brands creates a more interesting list, especially to out-of-town guests.
5. Having a beer list with 10 selections, while having wine list with 200.
Fine dining restaurants that take care to offer a deep selection of better wines may seem unbalanced to the discerning customer if they have do not offer a beer list that has at least some depth as well. While there is no hard and fast rule, it likely takes at least 20 craft beers to provide the variety needed for a restaurant to be seen as understanding craft beer.
CraftBeerRestaurant.com has free resources to help you update and improve your beer list.
In association with top names in the American craft beer industry, Spiegelau has introduced a new glass especially designed for serving American-style India Pale Ale.
The new glass was designed in partnership with Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewery and Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
Calagione says the ridges in the bottom half of the glass help to aerate the beer by creating more friction as the beer glass is tipped for drinking. He explainss that the tall, in-curved top half half of the glass concentrates the aromas and acts as a “olfactory cannon” that shoots the hops up to your nose.
“It’s a noticeable improvement to drink beer out of a glass that really brings that aroma to your nose as you’re drinking,” says Grossman.
Billed as the world’s oldest glassware manufacturer, Spiegelau is a German company producing a wide variety of high quality products for restaurant use.
For more information on craft beer glassware suitable for restaurant use, go to the CraftBeerRestaurant.com Glassware Guide.
Light beer substitutes — Week 6 of 52 Weeks of Restaurant Beer
“What do I do about Bud Light?” It’s a tough decision for many restaurateurs who want to move out of macro-brews and into craft beer. It can feel like an 800 lb. gorilla in the room.
Can you drop it from your list without a customer revolt? If you do drop it, what will you offer in its place?
Across American restaurants today, Bud Light and a handful of similar macro-brewed light-lager brands (Miller, Coors, Corona and Amstel) make up a huge chunk of beer sales. If you’d like to liberate yourself from this rather boring mass-market standardization, but not hurt your business, there is a right way to go about it as described here at CraftBeerRestaurant.com.
The typical American restaurant today overloads its selection of light lagers in the mistaken belief that it needs to carry most of the popular advertised brands. This is simply not true and leads to a boring sameness from restaurant to restaurant. This unnecessary stylistic duplication adds inventory cost without rewarding the restaurant with higher sales. It is better to use that cooler space to expand on the variety of your beer styles, such as offering superior lighter-styled craft beers. If you offer beers that are complementary to your restaurant’s concept, character and menu, you will have a popular beer list.
Do you cut the cord completely
Do you say adiós to Bud Light altogether? That’s really a decision you have to make yourself based on your restaurant’s concept and target customer profile. Switching to craft beer but maintaining one popular light macrobrew is a solution that some choose. Others might carry one of those extra-light, low-calorie/low-carb beers because there probably aren’t any true craft beers less than 100 calories per bottle.
Using the process outlined in CraftBeerRestaurant.com, it is possible to increase customer satisfaction at the same time you liberate your establishment from the bland, gray sameness of generic light beer.
As always, first explore breweries in your local area for lighter-styled craft beer. If this doesn’t work for you or you need more options, consider some of the following craft beers that are in regional and national distribution.
- Prima Pils, Victory Brewing Company, Pennsylvania
- Brooklyn Lager, The Brooklyn Brewery, New York
- Tire Bite Golden Ale, Flying Dog Brewery, Maryland
- Oberon American Wheat Ale, Bell’s Brewery, Michigan
- Hotter Than Helles, Cigar City Brewing Company, Florida
- Golden Ale, Terrapin Beer Company, Georgia
- Joe’s Premium American Pilsner, Avery Brewing Company, Colorado
- Pils, Lagunitas Brewing Company, California
- Keller Weisse, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, California
- Blue Star American Wheat Ale, North Coast Brewing Company, California
- Schlafly Kolsch, The Saint Louis Brewery, Missouri
- Ur-Pils (organic), Brauerie Pinkus Mueller, Germany
So have some fun exploring the lighter side of craft beer. You can find more info on this subject at the CraftBeerRestaurant.com main site. Here’s to making your restaurant a craft beer restaurant. Cheers.
Week 5 — 52 Weeks of Restaurant Beer
The newly released National Restaurant Association Industry Forecast says good service is the number one reason for customers selecting a restaurant. So does your beer service add to or detract from your restaurant’s service image?
We all know that wine service has a widely recognized standard and ritual. It’s what customers expect when ordering a bottle of wine. It’s a large part of why they willingly pay the restaurant’s mark up. It’s the added value that makes the experience a special one.
Beer, on the other hand, does not have a nearly so well-established or defined service standard or ritual. In fact, many restaurants are really confused. For example, compare Restaurant X and Restaurant Z.
- Restaurant X pours beer from the bottle into the glass at the bar then delivers the glass to the table; Restaurant Z always pours the beer from the bottle into the glass table side.
- X serves all its beers in chilled glasses; Z serves its craft beers in room temperature glasses.
- X carefully fills the glass to the brim with liquid attempting to make no foam; Z pours more freely to purposely produce a nice frothy one-inch or more head.
- X serves all craft beers at one icy-cold temperature; Z serves bottles of craft beer at different temperatures appropriate to the style of the beer.
- X uses one glass style for all its beer; Z uses several glassware styles to enhance the flavor of the different beers.
- X has several of its draught beers pour flat while others over-foam because their draught system delivers the same gas pressure to every keg; Z gets beautiful pours because it adjusts the pressure regulators at each keg so that the pressure required by each specific beer is maintained in that keg.
- X cleans its draught lines as often as its beer distributor gets around to doing it for them; Z religiously cleans its draught lines and taps every two weeks.
- X pays little attention to its beer glass cleaning process and its draught beer often arrives at the table with only a wisp of a head; Z ensures that its glassware is always beer clean and its draughts arrive at the table with a lovely proper head.
- X has a well-organized wine list but hasn’t gotten around to putting together a craft beer list; Z has a well-developed Beverage Menu containing all its wines, beers and other key beverage offerings.
- X’s servers can’t tell a customer the difference between a pale ale and a Bud Light and rarely know much about the different beers on tap; Z’s servers can recite the basic descriptors of each beer style on tap.
Restaurant X or Restaurant Z. Which of these best describes your operation?
The restaurant that will profit most from beer sales is the one that lives and breathes the beer ritual and raises craft beer service to a level that demonstrates: “We proudly serve some of the world’s best beers. We purchase, store and serve these beers with the care and respect that they so fully deserve, and we deliver them to you in a manner designed to elevate your dining experience.”
Extraordinary beer service can be a game changer, cueing your customers that this is no ordinary restaurant. There may be no better way today to differentiate yourself from the tough competition that’s probably sitting just across the street or just down the block.
Here’s to making your restaurant a Craft Beer Restaurant. Cheers
Week 4 – 52 Weeks of Restaurant Beer
Wood-aged and barrel-aged beers are those that have been aged on contact with wood to purposely pick up flavors associated with wood aging. As a group they are one of the more exciting and rapidly growing categories in the craft beer market today.
Wood-and barrel-aged beers are popular for restaurant use for the same reasons they are popular with craft brewers. The flavors are so many, so varied and so complex.
Barrel Aged Beer
Barrel-aged beer, like wine, is almost always aged in barrels that have been charred on the inside. The more common method today, instead of using a freshly charred oak barrel, is to age the beer in a used barrel. It may have been previously used for whiskey, rum, other spiritous liquors, or wine. Barrel aging in this manner is meant to pick up not only the flavors associated with charred wood, like vanilla, tannins, and spice, but also the flavors of the previous liquid.
For example, you should expect a Bourbon-barrel-aged beer, such as the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, to have at least some hints of Bourbon. It’s the brewer’s choice whether to have a lot of the former beverage’s flavor or just a little.
Aging in wine barrels typically imparts less wine flavor to the beer and is often used to allow the beer to pick up other flavors, including sourness, from the wild yeasts and bacteria that thrive in the used barrel. Among US craft brewers, Russian River Brewing Company of Santa Rosa, CA is the pioneer and leader here. It’s Supplication ale is aged in used Pinot Noir barrels, and it’s Temptation ale is aged in used Chardonnay barrels. Both have sourness as a major flavor component.
Wood aged beer
A beer that describes itself as just wood-aged often describes a beer that is quite a different beer from one aged in a used barrel. First, it would not be expected to be flavored by a liquor or wine. Why, because wood-aged beers are very often not aged in a barrel at all, but are aged in stainless steel tanks to which wood spirals, blocks, or chips have been added. It could also describe a beer that is aged in a wooden barrel or tank, but not one that was previously used for some other product.
Adding wood spirals, blocks or chips to beer aging in stainless tanks is a very common method today. Cigar City Brewing Company’s extremely interesting Humidor Series is aged on Spanish cedar spirals, which is definitely meant to impart cedar properties to the finished beer.
Wood aging has long been carried on in the beer industry. Before steel tanks and barrels were common, most all beer was aged at least a short time in wood. Certain beers, such as the British Burton-style ales, continue to be aged in wooden vats or barrels. Notable US versions of this include Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale (DBA) and Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton.
Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin brewery believes that contact with the oak barrel gives its beer an “unmatched depth of character and subtleness of flavor.” Wood aging does something to the beer but it’s not always done to add notable flavor.
Probably the best publicized wood-ager is Budweiser that adds beechwood chips to its lagering tanks. In Budweiser’s case, however, the beachwood is not added to impart a wood flavor but reportedly is done to assist the yeast in removing unwanted flavors in the beer, resulting in a cleaner, proper lager flavor profile.
The varying applications of wood- and barrel-aging produce beers of widely divergent styles and character. The ones that typically get the most publicity today are the more complex tasting products with multiple layers of flavor. Because this is still relatively new and experimental territory, we always advise tasting a wood- or barrel-aged beer before adding it to your beer list. This way you can see for yourself how to describe it to customers and what foods to suggest pairing it with.
You will find barrel-aged beers among the most sought after specialties in the industry. For this reason, they make great special feature beers for restaurant use. Many are in very limited supply. If you are lucky enough to get some hot ones, use the occasion to feature the beer together with an upscale entrée in a special pairing.
As always, search around your local region’s breweries for wood- or barrel-aged beers to feature. If this doesn’t work or you need additional beers, the following commercial examples have fairly wide distribution regionally.
- Double Barrel Ale, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, CA
- Humidor Series I.P.A., Cigar City Brewing Company, FL
- Burton Baton, Dogfish Head Craft Beer Company, DE
- Calabaza Blanca, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, MI
- Supplication, Russian River Brewing Company, CA
- Cuvee de Tomme, The Lost Abbey, CA
- La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, MI
- Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, Full Sail Brewing Company, OR
- Bourbon Barrel Stout, O’Dell Brewing Company, CO
- Barrel Aged Hibernation Ale, Great Divide Brewing Company, CO
- KBS–Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Founder’s Brewing Company, MI
- Bourbon Country Stout, Goose Island Beer, IL
- Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Alltech Lexington Brewing Company, KY
Here’s to making your restaurant a craft beer restaurant. Cheers.
Week 3 — 52 Weeks of Restaurant Beer
January can be a bitter month. I don’t necessarily mean bitter cold. Actually, I’m thinking warming up with a Bitter beer. You know, that tasty lighter English-style ale that goes down so smoothly yet has a deceivingly complex flavor to complement many foods.
Bitter is a category within the English ale beer style. Our focus here is on the easy-drinking standard versions of bitter, rather than the strong bitter and pale ales that have more body and substance.
People often think that Bitter must taste really bitter. That’s what the name says, isn’t it. But in today’s big hopped beer world, Bitter is only a moderate.
Bitter generally has a touch of the earthy, herbal or tea flavors that are associated with English hops, but only a light to moderate bitterness. Like most basic English ales, bitter is meant to be an easy drinking beer. It commonly has some fruity ester flavors and aromas along with a bit of nutty or caramel malt taste. Gold to copper in color, bitter ale has light to moderate body. Bitters can range from just off dry to moderate malty sweetness.
Even when made by American craft brewers bitter is typically produced using traditional English-style malt, hops, and yeast strains.
Beer expert Randy Mosher in Tasting Beer observes that the combination of these British ingredients with a room- to cellar-temperature fermentation causes these ales to come off spicier and fruitier than lagers, but less so than the Belgian-style ales.
As you pour a glass of bitter, don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a big head form. This is normal. One characteristic of bitter is carbonation at the lower side of the carbonation scale. In fact, be careful with pressure adjustment if putting a bitter on your regular draught system, as it can easily become over carbonated. Lower carbonation makes this style less filling.
Another characteristic of a standard bitter is lower alcohol. Regular bitter is traditionally offered at between 3% and 5% alcohol by volume. They are session beers meant to be consumed by the pint. The variety of bitter known as ESB or Extra Special Bitter has a higher alcohol content of 5% to 6% ABV.
Bitter should be served in an ale pint glass, preferably something with a little flair. The Nonick style is popular for English-style ales. Again here, as in all restaurant craft beer service, it is best to avoid the common straight-sided shaker pint glass.
Bitter is best enjoyed at cool cellar temperature around 50 degrees F. This temperature allows the complexity and character of the beer to shine forth (and doesn’t chill the customer in January). If this service temperature is difficult to achieve in your establishment, please be aware that serving bitter ice cold will significantly dull its taste and enjoyment.
Due to its typically low alcohol content, bitter is a beer that requires special attention paid to its freshness. Ideally it should not be more than a month old when you buy it. Be sure and communicate this to your distributor and check the dates upon delivery if at all possible.
Basic English-style ales are readily available in bottles and kegs. For draught, its best to purchase it in a 1/6th barrel size to help ensure it sells while fresh. Bitter-style ale is also one of the more popular beer styles offered in small casks or firkins that are designed to be gravity poured or hand pumped. This is the traditional way it was served in Britain, and many craft beer drinkers are attracted to that authenticity. If you have the space and/or equipment needed for this, it can be good option.
Since this beer style has its roots in Victorian times, think about pairing it with foods common it that era.
- Hot creamed soups, such as cream of potato, asparagus, celery or leek
- English cheddar with apple or pear
- Roast or braised meats, like beef, rabbit, or turkey, served with root vegetables
- Fish and chips
Bitter is sometimes marketed as simply Ale or English Ale. To find maximum freshness, buying bitter from a local brewery might be best. If this is not possible, listed below are a few commercial examples with wide distribution.
Honkers Ale, Goose Island Beer Company, IL
Fuller’s Chiswick Bitter, Fullers Brewing, UK
Fuller’s London Pride, Fuller’s Brewery, UK
Black Sheep Ale, Black Sheep Brewery, UK
Samuel Smith’s Tadcaster Bitter, Samuel Smith Old Brewery, UK
Red Hook ESB, Red Hook Brewing, NH & WA
Motorboat ESB, Sweetwater Brewing Company, GA
In this day and time I hate to see a restaurant beer list with everything lumped together under the two categories: Domestic and Imported. Worse yet, why am I seeing American craft beers listed under the Imported heading.
Unfortunately, these beer list sins still turn up in the market more often than you might think. If your restaurant is guilty, it’s time to repent and leave your beer list sins behind.
Fly your craft flag proudly
Even if you still sell a lot of domestic and imported macro brews, such as Bud Light, Stella, Heineken, and Corona, it is time to separate the macros from your domestic and imported craft beer. For better restaurants today, the prime market segment differentiator is not Domestic and Imported but Macro and Craft.
Craft quality beers come from many countries. They are produced by smaller breweries and hand-crafted with more expensive ingredients. Craft beer comes in a wide array of distinct styles and flavors. They are promoted by winning medals at prestigious competitions and recommendations in beer-centric publications. They command a significantly higher price point than do macro brews.
Macro brews are also made in many countries. They are mass-produced by large international enterprises. They cater to a popular taste that tends toward bland and indistinct. They are promoted through mass-media advertising. They command a lower market price.
In better-casual and fine-dining establishments, more and more, you will be known by the beers you sell. What do you want to be known for?
To highlight your craft beer offerings, give them their own category. Your customers want to spend more for your craft beer, so make it easy to find. Help them trade up. Even if you only offer five or six craft beers, separating them from the macro brews lets customers know you offer a better beer option.
Having a Craft Beer heading helps a server point out to customers, “We offer a selection of craft beers.”
For additional information on building a craft beer list best for your restaurant’s unique personality, concept and style, see the Craft Beer List Guide at CraftBeerRestaurant.com.
Here’s to making your restaurant a Craft Beer Restaurant. Cheers.
Week 2 — 52 Weeks of Restaurant Beer
It was below freezing this morning in West Virginia. That’s what I call cold.
Most parts of the lower 48 plus Alaska do get at least a couple months of cool to cold evenings when it’s really not comfortable to dine outside—at least not without outdoor heaters.
These are days when a really cold beer is really not the best beer.
When it’s cold, you want something to warm you up, not cool you down. So, what beer styles are at their best served when served at the warmer end of the beer temperature spectrum? Here’s a few thoughts.
Styles that will warm you
A number of beer styles taste great at cool cellar temperature—the mid-50s (Fahrenheit). These include your cask-conditioned firkins and bottles of English Ale, Bitter, Barley Wine Ale, India Pale Ale & Double IPA. It also includes bottles of most anything labeled Imperial, especially Imperial Stout. I’d also try dark Abbey ale, Dubbel, Baltic Porter, and Doppelbock. I’m talking here about bottles and firkins only. Don’t try to adjust the temperature of your refrigerated draught system, since making it warmer will really mess up its serving properties.
Think back to the days before refrigeration when beer, like wine, was stored in underground caves or cellars. Beer styles developed that tasted good at these temperatures. Only in relatively recent times have beer styles been designed and produced to taste best at deeply refrigerated temperatures (eg. light lagers, light beer). That means most beer styles actually show better at warmer than food-refrigerator temperatures.
Ideas for raising the temperature
- Select a few appropriate beer styles to store in your wine cellar (at about 55 degrees) instead of in your cold refrigerator.
- Always serve winter-warmer beers in a room temperature glass.
- Use a snifter or tulip-shaped glass to allow the customer to warm the beer with the palm of his or her hand.
- When serving from a refrigerated bottle, pour only 4 or 5 ounces of beer into the glass so it can warm up faster.
Give cellar-temperature beer a chance in you restaurant during the cold season. It’s a new twist sure to satisfy the fast-growing craft beer drinking segment of the market.
As always, first explore breweries in your own region for local examples of the styles. If that doesn’t work or you need more variety, here are some beautiful beers by some of the country’s best craft breweries.
- Double Jack Imperial IPA, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, CA
- Hop Stoopid Ale, Lagunitas Brewing Company, CA
- The Czar Imperial Stout, Avery Brewing, CO
- The Reverend Belgian-Style Quadruple, CO
- Double Chocolate Stout, Rogue Brewing, OR
- Leviathan Baltic Porter, Harpoon Brewery, MA
- Small Craft Warning Imperial Pilsner, Heavy Seas Brewing, MD
- Cold Mountain Winter Ale, Highland Brewing Company, NC
- Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout, Cigar City Brewing Co., FL
- Hopslam Ale, Bell’s Brewery, MI
Here’s to making your restaurant a Craft Beer Restaurant. Cheers.
Find additional information on restaurant beer sales at CraftBeerRestaurant.com main website.
Week 1: Barley Wine Ales
We open up 2013 with an appropriate beer for celebrating the New Year and celebrating the fact we didn’t fall over a fiscal cliff: Barley Wine Ale. Barley wine is a typically strong elixir that comes in two versions, British style and American style.
If you just need a strong drink after watching our Congress in action, either one will do. For restaurant use, you can find both styles widely available.
American barley wines range from amber to deep copper garnet in color and have a full body and high residual malty sweetness. Complexity of alcohols and fruity-ester characters are often quite high and counterbalanced by assertive bitterness and extraordinary alcohol content. Hops aroma and flavors are at medium to very high levels. American type hops are often used. Caramel and/or toffee aroma and flavor are most often present, as is a raisin-like, dried fruit note.
The British style is similar but has less emphasis on hop aroma and bitterness, so it may come off a bit more sweet.
Uses & Pairings
Barley wine ales are a worthy complement to desserts such as rich bread puddings, fruitcake, or raisin pudding with crumbled brittle. Contrast them with dark chocolate cake or a thick mint parfait.
Blue cheese is a classic pairing as are other rich, fatty dishes. Just remember that the intense richness of barley wine can overpower many foods.
A wonderful after-dinner drink, barley wine can be used much like a Cognac, port, or liqueur. If you are in a cold weather region, barley wines make great winter warmers.
Barley wines are some of the few American beers that hold up well to aging several years, and they are often vintage dated. If you are fortunate enough to have some bottles that are a few years old, expect the hoppy edge to have greatly diminished, the malty sweetness to be emphasized, and possibly a vinous, sherry-like hint to have appeared. Older vintages command much higher prices.
Due to their high alcoholic strength (typically 8.5% to 12% ABV) barley wines are appropriate for offering in less than 12 ounce portions. One bottle is perfect for sharing among two or more guests. This is mandatory if you are selling barley wine in a 22 oz bottle.
Since they typically have such nice aromatics and show best around 50℉, serve barley wine in a snifter or tulip-style glass filled with about 6 oz of beer. With the smaller portion in a snifter the customer can quickly warm the beer to a desired drinking temperature.
As always, first explore breweries in your own region for a local example. If that doesn’t work or you need more variety, here are some beautiful examples by some of the best US craft brewers.
- Old Guardian, Stone Brewing Company, CA
- Bigfoot, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, CA
- Old Ruffian, Great Divide Brewing Company, CO
- Hog Heaven, Avery Brewing Company, CO
- Schlafly Oak-Aged Barleywine, The Saint Louis Brewery, MO
- Old Horizontal, Victory Brewing Company, PA
- Horn Dog, Flying Dog Brewing Company, MD
- Old School, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, DE
Barley wine ale are commonly available in 12 and 22 oz. bottles and 1/6 and ½ barrel kegs.
Find additional information on restaurant beer sales at CraftBeerRestaurant.com main website.
* All references to the characteristics of a beer style are based on the Brewers Association 2012 Beer Style Guidelines published by Brewers Association with changes.
As the India Pale Ale (IPA) style has grown so popular over the past decade, more and more restaurants are finding ways to feature this English-born, now American-dominated, classic beer style. So let’s take look at IPA Day, which will be celebrated in August.
While there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the IPA style every day of the year, using August 2nd to focus attention on this full-flavored treat provides an appropriate backdrop for a serious look at IPA in your restaurant.
Have you explored the new offerings in your market? Have you kept your beer list up to date with the nuances of the style? For an IPA Day feature consider adding more offerings from the subcategories of this style. Here are the major divisions with a few of the more highly regarded commercial examples for each:
- English-style IPA – Napa Smith Organic IPA, Napa Smith Brewery, CA; Goose Island IPA, Goose Island Brewing, IL; Commodore Perry IPA, Great Lakes Brewing, OH; Shipyard IPA, Shipyard Brewing Co., ME.
- American-style IPA – Two Hearted Ale, Bell’s Brewing Co., MI; IPA, Stone Brewing Co., CA; 60 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, DE; Odell IPA, Odell Brewing Co., CO; Elevated IPA, La Cumbre Brewing Co. NM; Deviant Dale’s, Oskar Blues Brewery, CO; Head Hunter IPA, Fat-Head’s Brewery, OH; Pako’s IPA, Snake River Brewing Co., WY; Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewing Co., CA; AleSmith IPA, AleSmith Brewing Co. CA.
- Imperial or Double IPA – Palate Wrecker, Green Flash Brewing Company, CA; Hopslam, Bell’s Brewing, MI; Citra Double IPA, Kern River Brewing, CA; Double Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., CA; Imperial IPA, Epic Brewing Co., UT; Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing Co., CA; Racer X, Bear Republic Brewing Co., CA, Ruination, Stone Brewing, CA.
While it’s true that brewers in the Western states seem to dominate the buzz in the IPA style, today, great IPAs are brewed all across the country. Explore your local and regional brewery offerings to find their latest IPAs. More small brewers have mastered this hop-forward style. You never know what might be lurking just around the corner, unless you try it.
The hopper, maltier IPAs have an affinity for more richly-flavored foods. They love spice, thought not necessarily fiery hot spice. Most people find that highly bitter beers accentuate the heat in hot spices, so the combination is not for everyone. Think more curry, which may be hot but also has a lot of other complex spice flavors in there too. That is a classic combination with IPA. Char-grilled burgers and steaks are a good bet, as are blackened meats or fried foods served with spicy sauces, such as chicken wings and calamari.
Be aware that some of the really big, Imperial IPAs tend to overpower most foods. You may find these are best suited to pair with smoked meats and sharp aged cheddar or artisan blue cheeses. They can also hang with a variety of sweet spicy desserts such as carrot cake with cream cheese sauce/frosting.
Follow the preparations and activities for IPA Day on Twitter at #IPADay.
(Taken from Brewers Association 2012 Beer Style Guidelines, January 10, 2012)
English-style India pale ales are traditionally characterized by medium-high hop bitterness with a medium to medium-high alcohol content. Hops from a variety of origins may be used to contribute to a high hopping rate. Earthy and herbal English-variety hop character is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. The use of water with high mineral content results in a crisp, dry beer, sometimes with subtle and balanced character of sulfur compounds. This pale gold to deep copper-colored ale has a medium to high, flowery hop aroma and may have a medium to strong hop flavor (in addition to the hop bitterness). English-style India pale ales possess medium maltiness and body. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas are moderate to very strong. Diacetyl can be absent or may be perceived at very low levels. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.
American-style India pale alesare perceived to have medium-high to intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content. The style is further characterized by floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney, resinous, or sulfur-like American-variety hop character. Note that one or more of these American-variety hop characters is the perceived end, but the hop characters may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. The use of water with high mineral content results in a crisp, dry beer. This pale gold to deep copper-colored ale has a full, flowery hop aroma and may have a strong hop flavor (in addition to the perception of hop bitterness). India pale ales possess medium maltiness which contributes to a medium body. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas are moderate to very strong. Diacetyl can be absent or may be perceived at very low levels. Chill and/or hop haze is allowable at cold temperatures. (English and citrus-like American hops are considered enough of a distinction justifying separate American-style IPA and English-style IPA categories or subcategories. Hops of other origins may be used for bitterness or approximating traditional American or English character.
Imperial or Double India pale ales have intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is medium-high to high and notably evident. They range from deep golden to medium copper in color. The style may use any variety of hops. Though the hop character is intense it’s balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters and medium to high malt character. Hop character should be fresh and lively and should not be harsh in quality. The use of large amounts of hops may cause a degree of appropriate hop haze. Imperial or Double India Pale Ales have medium-high to full body. The intention of this style of beer is to exhibit the fresh and bright character of hops. Oxidative character and aged character should not be present.