With so many different IPAs on the shelves these days it can be difficult to decide what six pack to buy, but imagine how the brewers making all those IPAs feel. Designing a new IPA recipe that stands out among all the hop bombs available is a challenge, and as the beer I.Q. of the average craft beer buyer rises, creating a distinctive IPA only gets more difficult. Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles doesn’t shy away from that challenge, and the brewery has just released The Works IPA — the sixth beer in their seasonal “Custom IPA Series.” Designed as a response to the proliferation of beers that lean heavily on a single hop variety, The Works uses a medley of modern hop varieties from across the globe to achieve a complex and balanced hop character.
I’ve lost count of how many different IPAs Brewmaster Jesse Houck has created at Golden Road, but it’s at least 10, including special releases and one-off brews. I asked him how he approached formulating the newest IPA in his portfolio, and he says, “sometimes it starts with the hop, when you find something that’s really unique [to showcase],” while other times he says he tries to create a recipe that fills a gap in the flavor profiles of current offerings. The Works was a bit of both.
“We hadn’t planned [to brew The Works] when I was up [in Washington for hop] harvest last year, but knowing how we like to continuously put out new and exciting IPAs, I picked up a couple hops just to do something with.”
The Jarrylo variety was one of his finds, and Houck says the flavor is berry-like, comparing it to Juicy Fruit gum. It was a hop that he quickly realized would pair with tropical twang of the popular Mosaic and Equinox varieties. This became the foundation of hop flavor for the new brew, and more tropical character comes from New Zealand Motueka hops. A pair of German-grown hops — Opal and Saphir — complete the hop bill and add a zesty and grassy character. Together, all six hop varieties create a rounded hop assault that starts with a bright explosion of berries. Melon, citrus, and lemongrass follow the initial impression, then fade into a lingering tropical earthiness that falls short of being overwhelmingly dank. The finish is bitter but clean, and there’s just enough sweetness from a touch of Vienna malt to provide a little depth.
“I really like the balance that [the Vienna malt] imparted,” Houck says. “Just a little more body and a little color.”
The result is an ale that drinks easier than the 7.1% ABV and 71 IBUs would imply, and a beer that’s both approachable and complex. It rewards careful smelling-and-sniffing, “fussing over” if you will, by slowly revealing layer-after-layer of hoppy aromas and flavors, but all those layers make for a well-rounded “hoppiness” that you don’t have to dissect to enjoy.
The Works is also about teamwork. Not only was the recipe a team-effort from Golden Road’s whole staff of brewers, but it also was brewed in partnership with L.A. Works — the largest network of volunteers in the city — and a portion of proceeds from the brew will benefit the local non-profit. Two previous beers in Golden Road’s Custom IPA Series also benefited L.A.-area non profits: Heal the Bay was brewed in partnership with the charity of the same name, and 2020 IPA was made to help with the efforts to revitalize the long maligned Los Angeles River.
Brewery: Golden Road Brewing
City: Los Angeles, California
Style: West Coast IPA
Availability: 4-packs of 16-ounce cans and on draught throughout Southern California, Arizona, and Las Vegas.