Two Thursdays ago was a first in the beer world, as far as I know. It was a “holiday” created by some beer bloggers: International IPA Day (a.k.a. #IPADay on Twitter). Maybe it was just a silly Twitter gimmick, or maybe it was the very real beginning of a new annual celebration of craft beer. I didn’t much care either way, since I love IPAs so very, very much. The main idea behind the day was this: People would focus their drinking on IPAs for a day while broadcasting their thoughts on the experience to all their friends and followers on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media.
Since I drink IPAs nearly 365 days a year, setting aside a special day for drinking them seemed meaningless to me on first glance. Indeed, I saw a number of friends online noting they would be celebrating the day by drinking stouts and other styles since they drink so many IPAs anyway. Maybe I would have felt that way if I didn’t live so close to a great beer bar that went out of its way to celebrate the event.
I live a scant 15 minutes away from such an establishment, in the form of the J. Clyde, and the folks there went out of their way to stock their taps with IPAs you don’t normally find on draft in Birmingham. I took one for the team and made the trek out to sample a variety of great brews, including a flight of five samples.
My first IPA of the evening was Avery’s seasonal double IPA called DuganA. It’s actually one of two seasonal double IPAs from Avery (the other being Maharaja). Both are among my favorite double IPAs anywhere, but DuganA is seen less frequently than Maharaja, so I was thrilled to have a special opportunity to enjoy it. At 8.5-percent ABV, it’s on the low end of the alcohol spectrum for double IPAs, but that just allows the hops to shine through all the more. Thursday’s was the last keg we’ll see around these parts until next spring.
I then ordered a “flight” of five different IPA samples to maximize the number of beers I could taste. A couple of them were pretty bad, but I’m not interested in using this column to criticize craft brewers, so I’ll just focus on the good. The biggest pleasant surprise of the night was Harpoon IPA. It’s a beer I’ve had a few times before out of the bottle and was never very impressed. I always felt the hops were too timid for my tastes, but on draft Thursday the Harpoon really impressed me. It’s not a slap-you-in-the-face hop bomb, but it is a wellbalanced session IPA with a solid hop profile. I may try this again in the bottle sometime soon.
Another one that stood out from the pack was Yellowhammer Hop Revival, another double IPA. This was my second time to sample Hop Revival; the first time was at a blind double IPA tasting where I rated it very highly. It was in great form Thursday, oozing hop oils that coat your tongue with each sip. Then the alcohol cleans the hop oils off, and the process begins again with the next sip. I have been very impressed with Yellowhammer across the board. I haven’t tasted a bad beer from them yet, and they are doing Huntsville and Alabama proud.
I ended the evening with a half pint of cask-conditioned Moylan’s Hopsickle. The folks at Moylan’s bill it as a “triple IPA” but there is no such style. That just means it’s a double IPA with really extreme use of hops. Not many beers get closer to the “pure liquified hops” experience, which is right up my alley. I love it. Really hoppy beers don’t always fare well on cask because the low level of carbonation mutes the hop flavor somewhat. But this one was dry-hopped in the cask, which more than made up for the low CO2.
I’d say International IPA Day was a rousing success here in Birmingham. The Clyde was packed out and everywhere you looked someone was digging into a flight, sampling as many different beers as they could from the special tap list. I will celebrate the new holiday by making every day IPA Day and cherishing every IPA that crosses my lips. Cheers to hops.
“Hopped Up” is a weekly brew review by Danner Kline, founder of Free the Hops and co-organizer of the annual Magic City Brewfest. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org