When IPA Met Lager
We love the heady aromas and brawny flavors of India Pale Ales, but sometimes those bittersweet tastes can leave our palates sticky and fatigued. That's one of the reasons we're so happy to have discovered a weird little genre-busting hybrid of a beer that straddles the line between hoppy IPAs and cool, crisp lagers: the India Pale Lager (IPL).
IPLs have all the potent citrusy aromas of a West Coast-style IPA, but instead of being fermented with ale yeast, they're conditioned like lagers. That leaves them with clean, soft flavors and snappy finishes that are perfect for these dwindling summer days. Here are four aromatic, smooth IPLs that we can't get enough of right now.
Ballast Point Fathom
San Diego's Ballast Point isn't just an early adopter of the IPL style—they may have been the ones to invent it. "We wanted an absolutely clean base beer that would allow the citrusy hop flavors to really shine," says Ballast Point's Colby Chandler. By that measure, Fathom is a smash hit—a heavy hand of Ahtanum hops create aggressive aromas of flowers, resin and lemon peel that linger against a smooth, perpetually gulpable lager. It goes down so easily you may need reminding that it's a generous seven percent alcohol. ($6 for a 22-ounce bottle)
Jack's Abby Hoponius Union
Massachusetts lager-heads Jack's Abby is the only brewery we can think of with an IPL as its flagship beer. In fact, the brewery was founded to promote "wicked hoppy lagers." (Try saying that in a Southie accent three times fast.) "We wanted to take hoppy West Coast-style IPAs and merge them with the traditional lagering techniques of Germany," says VP Sam Hendler. Indeed, Hoponious Union has it both ways—colossal pine and ripe grapefruit aromas upfront and a mellow, easy-drinking finish. In contrast to traditional lagers, though, Hoponious contains very few bittering hops, making it a sweet and juicy ride from top to bottom. ($10 for a six-pack)
In keeping with Founders' flavor-forward reputation, Dissenter IPL is an extreme beer: intoxicating IPA aromas of tropical fruit and citrus with a crisp and clean finish. Even at 8.7 percent alcohol, we found it frighteningly easy to polish off a big bottle by ourselves. ($12 for a 750-milliliter bottle)
Samuel Adams Double Agent
Double Agent is a far tastier, more interesting brew than the company's well-known Boston Lager. The 5 percent alcohol sipper is the everyman IPL: plenty aromatic with a solid grapefruit and pine bouquet. Toned-down hop notes make it particularly approachable (not to mention completely slammable). It's a beginner-level IPL we'd happily bring to a backyard barbecue. ($10 for a six-pack)
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