At some point, there will be a backlash. That’s the way it works with trends. First you have bell bottoms, then you have skinny jeans. The pendulum swings. Right now, we’re living in a world full of fruit forward IPAs, from Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin to the new tangerine IPA from Green Flash. At some point, the pendulum will swing back to more straight forward, dry, piney IPAs, but for now, it seems as if our IPAs are being strained through Carmen Miranda’s hat. Case in point, these two new beers, Bridgeport’s Stumptown CandyPeel IPA and Victory’s Agave IPA (with agave syrup and grapefruit juice). Both boast fruity profiles, but they go about it in totally different ways—one with specific hop strains (and a little bit of orange peel), the other with adjuncts. The results couldn’t be more different, and probably not in the way you might think.
I feel like Bridgeport is really setting the stage with the name and label of this beer. The branding comes across as being juicy, and it does not lie. The nose is all sugary sweetness, and the first sip follows through with a rush of malty goodness. It’s orange, mango, maybe a little pineapple…The whole package has a nice, supple mouthfeel—totally pleasant—but the cool thing about this beer, is that most of that fruity sweetness in the profile comes from the use of Styrian Golding hops. The orange peel doesn’t really show itself until the back end of the sip. And even then, it’s subtle, adding a slight bittering note, but refusing to take over the show. The Vienna malts, the Styrian Golding hops, the orange peel…it’s all perfectly balanced and still delivers that juicy character we’ve all come to love. I’m a fan of Bridgeport, and this might be the best Bridgeport IPA I’ve had to date.
Brewery: Bridgeport Brewing Company
City: Portland, Oregon
Availability: Limited, 12 ounce bottles
Victory’s new Agave IPA couldn’t be more different than Stumptown. It’s the first in Victory’s Blackboard Series, a rotating crop of “special” beers that focuses on fresh ingredients. Specifically, Victory brews this IPA with agave syrup and grapefruit juice. I don’t think I’ve ever had a beer with agave, so I don’t really know what to expect. The beer has an enticing nose that I can’t quite place. It’s earthy, and kind of savory. The beer pours a light, straw yellow and has a relatively thin body. Honestly, it’s not overtly fruity and I have a hard time finding the grapefruit that’s promised on the label. Instead of malty, it’s light and crisp. The more I dig into it, and the warmer the beer gets, the fruit steps forward, and so does that agave, which delivers a little bit of prickly spice. It’s not the fruit-forward beer I was expecting, but overall, it’s an interesting take on the IPA.
And really, how many fruit forward IPAs can you drink before you’re ready for something a little different? I’ll let you know if I ever reach that point.
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company
City: Downington, Pennsylvania
Availability: Seasonal, 12 ounce bottles