The art in craft: Brewers showcase a wide variety of ‘hoppy’ beers

April 2014 Posted in Food & Drink

nectarcreekBy James Day

The three most important letters in Northwest craft brewing circles these days are I-P-A.

“Anything with the word IPA in it is hot,” said Matt Van Wyk of Oakshire Brewing in Eugene.

IPA, or India Pale Ale, originated in Britian in the late 18th century, with legend having it that they were brewed to be stronger and more “hoppy” to survive transport to India.

No matter the origin, “People love hops,” said Ben Love of Gigantic Brewing of Portland.

J Shilling, czar of the taps at 5th Street Growlers in Corvallis, agrees.

“IPAs are big right now,” Shilling said, while looking up at his signboard, which showed that more than a third of his 30-plus offerings are IPAs, including double IPAs and red, black and white models.

“We are not at all surprised by the driving force of IPAs,” said Kevin Watson of Elysian Brewing in Seattle. “They are to us what bitters were to the UK 100 years ago.”

Brewfans will be able to taste dozens of hop-laden IPAs at the April 25-27 Oregon Garden Brewfest. More than 60 brewers, meaderies and cidermakers will be on hand for this 10th edition of the pourathon, with more than 100 samples to sip. But watch for lines at the taps offering IPAs.

“To me IPAs are the big, bold red wine of beer,” Shilling said. “As palates develop people go after other styles.”

Shilling gives a lot of the credit for the IPA craze to Northwest pioneers such as Bridgeport, Deschutes and Rogue, as well as Sierra Nevada, whose pale ale debuted in Chico, Calif., in November 1980.

“The IPA revolution in American started with Sierra Nevada, the first hop-forward beer,” Shilling said. “It kind of set off this craze of good hoppy ale for the masses.”

Particularly in this part of the country.

“The Northwest has been making the most hop-forward beer in the country for 20-plus years,” said Jesse Shue of Golden Valley Brewery in McMinnville.

Oregon Garden Brewfest
879 W. Main St., Silverton
April 25-27, Friday and Saturday
noon-11 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m.Tickets: $15 Friday and Saturday
until 5 p.m. and all day Sunday.
$20 Friday and Saturday nights.
Admission includes a mug and five
tasting tickets. Additional tasting
tickets are available for $1.

Parking/shuttles: Parking at the Garden
costs $5; lots are expected to fill.
Shuttle buses run every half hour to
free auxiliary lots. The gravel lot
north of Roth’s will be available
all three days. The lot at the First
Baptist Church, 229 Westfield St.
will be available Friday and Saturday.
The lot at Robert Frost School,
201 Westfield St., will be available
Saturday and Sunday.

As you might expect from a region that thrives on idiosyncratic approaches, there are as many ways to skin the IPA cat as there are brewers.

Shue will be bringing his Bald Peak IPA to Silverton. It features 1.5 pounds of Northwest hops in each keg.

Gigantic will offer its 7.3 ABV (alcohol by volume) model that includes a “citrusy” confluence created by Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe and Crystal hops. Love said he uses “only whole leaf hops.”

Seven Brides of Silverton will be unveiling its Crooked Finger IPA, which offers hints of lemon and tangelo.

Van Wyk of Oakshire will pour an American IPA, dry-hopped using Amarillo and Simcoe hops. Oakshire also is an IPA packaging pioneer, selling 50 percent of its IPAs in cans.

Watson of Elysian will be bringing the Immortal, an IPA the brewery has been offering since 1996. The only change to the recipe was adding Amarillo hops when those became available (the Amarillo is only available from Virgil Gamache Farms in Toppenish, Wash.).

IPAs have gotten so big, in fact, that there is an alternative movement afoot. Not a backlash, per se; just another way to work the hops.

“They kept getting bigger and hoppier. They kept outdoing each other,” Shilling said. “More hops. More IBUs (International Bitterness Units), above 100. Now we have the sessions IPA movement.”

Led by Stone Brewing of Escondido, Calif.

“Since day one we’ve been abundantly forthright and fully transparent about our lust for hops,” said Stone’s Erin Kemplin, “but we are embracing our hop obsession in a new way.”

A “session” beer is lighter in alcohol.

Stone will showcase its Go To IPA in Silverton, with an ABV of 4.5 and an IBU of 65.

In similar vein is the Suicide Squeeze IPA from Fort George of Astoria. It also has an ABV of 4.5 and an IBU of 65.

And the innovation continues … Elysian is working on a Dayglow IPA, a crisp, light quaff that uses Mosaic and Eldorado hops and has a touch of wheat. Alas, it won’t be released until May.

Select specialty brews beyond the IPAsKey: ABV is alcohol by volume, IBU is bitterness range, with lighter beers scoring lower:

Nectar Creek Honeywine offers its award-winning Ginger Session Mead. Using 100 percent Willamette Valley honey, it won a silver medal at the Mazer Cup, the world’s largest mead competition.

Deluxe, a new brewery and distillery in Albany, brings its Schwarzbier (4.8 ABV, 12 IBU), or “black beer” in German. It is a medium-bodied, malt-accented dark brew.

Silverton’s Seven Brides pours its 80 Schilling Scottish Ale (6.2 ABV, 25 IBU) using hand-smoked malts with a slightly sweet malt flavor.

2 Towns Ciderhouse of Corvallis brings its new Made Marion, made with fresh-pressed Northwest apples and Oregon marion berries. The 6.0 ABV makes its festival debut. It’s sold May through September.

Kells of Portland brings its Miley Citrus India Session, a dry-hopped lager (4.2 ABU, 26 IBU) fermented warm with a bouquet of orange and tangerine.

Salem-based Gilgamesh pours its Mamba, which includes black tea, bergamot, tangerine peel and rye. It’s at 6.5 ABV and 1 IBU.

Uptown Market of Brewing pours its Stop Work Stout. The Irish dry stout (5.0 ABV, 30 IBU) named for an employment pink slip is coffee black with an aroma of espresso and chocolate malts.

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