- Mike Riedel
It's a good time to be an IPA lover in Utah. Hell, it's a good time to be an IPA hater as well. No matter if you love them or hate them, I found two new IPAs that are just different enough to make both factions grin.
Level Crossing Brewing Co. Suss It Out: This unfiltered IPA has a copper-hued amber color with a firm and luscious creamy head. There's some great retention of the foam despite the addition of oily rye malts, probably from the active carbonation. This creates a nice pattern of webbing as foam sticks to the sides of the glass. Floral and earthy hop aromatics comprised of rustic dry citrus peel and flowery pedals still allow the spicy rye to shine through, as both blanket the malty, bread-like base. Once in the mouth, rye adds a sharp and upfront spiciness that lingers throughout the entirety of the beer, while toasted biscuit and wheat bread crust backs up the still-present herbal and citrus hop blast. Although fairly absent in aroma, grapefruit rind emerges in flavor with lingering earthy undertones and floral notes. The smooth malt base provides nice structure and body, offsetting the sharp rye, which adds a gritty texture and spice that lingers on the tongue with the beer's impressive bitterness.
Overall: This rye IPA is a hop-and-rye forward beer that doesn't focus directly on one ingredient or the other, but melds the two in harmony as grapefruit, earthy and floral attributes blend with the spicy rye over biscuity, bready malt for a superb balance, considering it's technically an IPA. At a fair 6.9% ABV, this full-flavored beer packs a wallop without walloping the customer—a brilliant combination.
T.F. Brewing Squirrel: For much of America's brief IPA history, the East Coast vs. West Coast battle over style dominance has always skewed west. The East's IPAs never had a flavor profile that could compete with complex citrus bombs that were coming out of California and the Northwest. The New England style is the first thing that the East got right. Hazy, juicy and smooth, these beers look and taste like nothing that has been made before. And people can't seem to get enough of them. Squirrel has a heavy goldenrod haze and a ton of anticipation. As a creamy off-white meringue pulls from the beer's depths, the perfume of stone fruit, orchard fruit, tropical and citrus peel delights the senses ahead of a pastry-sweet taste of light caramel, honey and flaky crust. As the ale rolls onto the middle palate, its sweetness begins to drift and a tangy sensation of sherbet and creamsicle take hold. Creamy throughout, the hops peak through the lingering malt starches and bring a strong taste of mango, peach and apricot. A quick follow-up of pineapple and guava march through the tropical fruits before landing at the smooth and bitter bite of pink grapefruit peel near the beer's end. Mildly herbaceous and chive-like, the lingering impressions are of tropical fruit skins and botanical grasses. This 6.5% beer has a solid medium body, smooth from first swig to the finish.
Overall: This juicy ale (with no fruit or fruit flavorings) is fruit and hop forward with a doughy center that is as persistent as it is balancing. This New England IPA will find favor for those looking to hop onto the IPA train, but can't get over the gripping bitter bite from the West Coast style.
Both of these offerings come in 16-ounce cans, and can typically be enjoyed at their respective breweries. Demand for these IPA variants is high, so do your homework when seeking specialties like these out, because they might not always be at your favorite watering hole. As always, cheers!