I have noticed an interesting trend which I partly saw coming and am partly, pleasantly surprised by. As it stands the reach and scope of craft beer enthusiasm seems to be growing almost daily. Beyond columns such as my own (which may I remind you ought to be the only beer reviews you take seriously) and the proliferation of craft shops and tap houses, certain evolutions in beer drinkers habits that are common to the old guard craft enthusiasts are now themselves becoming industrial standards as more fledgling drinkers enter the market.
Specifically in this case, the nature, appeal and sometimes aversion to hoppy ales and IPAs seems to be taking on a slightly different tone than it had in the past, leading in directions that are rather familiar to those of us already inundated with such. Speaking in this respect to the steps it seems some take from bubbly lagers to hoppy ales, it often seems as though by way of an innocent ignorance by way of limited exposure that many drinkers typically write off hop flavors entirely just before discovering their preferred strain in the course of such. This to my mind is a perfect manner in which to introduce the Elysian Space Dust IPA.
Brewed using three primary hops, it is a beer which is first intentionally bittered with the use of Chinook hops, followed then by a flavoring by way of dry hopping using Citra and Amarillo. What this creates in the sip is a remarkably balanced and definitively American hoppiness that serves both the beer and drinker quite well. Also, possibly to my mind, it also serves as an interesting introduction to the multi-faceted varieties of hops that one may and should indulge in.
The brewing process itself is one which seeks to layer the bitterness of the beer into it early on, then allowing the more citrusy and zesty hop flavors to be piled on top. Pouring golden and hazy and smelling of a piney, resinous nature, it is the sort of beer which I imagine experienced hop-heads would get excited about upon simple sight, yet newbies to the IPA and Pale Ale worlds might find intriguing enough to follow through with.
Within the sip itself, these very same elements of balance and layered flavors come through beautifully, with opening notes of a somewhat grassy bitterness coming through at the beginning, followed then by an almost wheaty taste and texture, all of which seem to almost be swallowed up by the iconic west coast resin and hits of grapefruit citrus. Contained in a medium body and going down smoothly with only the slightest hints of lingering bitterness, this beer is one which many of my customers were almost overly excited to see arrive and now, I see why.
However in respect to how a beer like this plays into the dynamic and evolving tastes of a growing market, I will attempt to keep it now short. Not long ago, IPAs were themselves outlier oddball beers meant only for pretentious beer snobs who were more interested in being observed drinking something odd than actually drinking something odd. Not a universality, of course, but a truth nevertheless.
As such have now become mainstream staples of the beer world in general, many seem to have missed the style’s evolution as newer strains of hop are continually being discovered and bred, all with their own dynamic flavor offerings. Within this brew specifically, we’re offered a chance to explore how combinations of classic bittering and more modernly popular zesty elements are able to play together. Likewise in many a single hop variety wherein strains such as Cascade or Citra are allowed to hog the spotlight themselves, cleaner and more direct flavor profiles are available for observation.
In any event, the long and short of this is that if you are yourself the type who has sworn off IPAs forever due to an aversion to a grassy, lawn clipping or pine needle flavor, consider sampling some newer wares to see what’s newly available. You may very well not care for the styles altogether, however on the off chance you’re missing something, these sorts of brews might just open up entirely new worlds of beer appreciation, which is really what this is all about.
So to Elysian, to these lovely strains of hops and of course to you, I say as always…
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is an actor, writer and craft beer reviewer at EveryJoe.com. Certified as a Cicerone beer server, he is working towards obtaining certification as a beer judge while employed at Bert’s Better Beers in Hooksett, NH. When not reviewing beer, wine and spirits, he is typically writing political essays, screenplays and short fiction. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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