A 5-IPA Review
I was given carte blanche! So beer and food pairings it is. Wine drinkers have had their time to talk about this, and they've gotten snobby. Guess what... beer and food can elevate each other too.
Nothing fancy here - just 5 delicious and reliable IPAs that are fairly widely available. Nothing too punishing, either. I'm fine with the occasional crushing brew, but it does kill your palate, and food is wasted at that point, so fast food is about all you should spend money on.
Now I'm thinking about that scene from this depressing movie, where Paul Giamatti drinks his priceless wine with a burger and onion rings.
To paraphrase the psalmist, "to the thirsty, every bitter thing is sweet."
This isn't going to be a rant about how the American palate doesn't like bitter flavors.
No, to hear that, you have to buy me a beer, and then I will tell you how my doctor told me drinking IPAs was good for me, so there you have it - doctor's orders.
"Centennial" by Founders - ABV 7.2%
This is a clean, tidy brew, lots of bright citrusy hops up front, but plenty of biscuity malt as well.
A fine go-to beer, certainly not earth-shattering, but the kind I reach for on a week night.
Goes well with barbecue, whether you like your 'cue sweet, smokey, acidic, or all of the above. Think pulled pork, or ribs someone has put time/effort/love into. Or a grilled boneless skinless chicken breast, if you hate yourself.
"Two Hearted" by Bells - ABV 7.0%
Perhaps the most balanced IPA available. Hoppy? Yes, but it's SO DAMN SMOOTH, you might forget this is not a low ABV brew. Generally, drinking IPAs with spicy food hurts. If you're into pain, then embrace it! Order the hot wings! If you want flavor and nuance, then go with some milder indian food. Lentil dahl, a chicken curry, that kind of thing. You want spice flavor, not Scoville units.
"90 Minute" by Dogfish Head - ABV 9.0%
DFH makes a 60, a 90, and a 120. The 60 is nice, the 120 is stern, and the 90 is darkly but not appallingly bitter. It pairs magnificently with a thin-crust, wood-fired pizza (well, okay, all pizza is good pizza, but trust me here). A topping with a touch of sweetness - caramelized onions, apple or pear, balsamic - will aid in balancing the strong flavors here.
"Torpedo" by Sierra Nevada - ABV 7.2%
This beer was the first six-pack I ever bought, and the second beer I ever drank.
I took one sip and was like... .
Fortunately I soldiered through that beer, and now here we are. Believe it or not, this pairs quite well with Chinese food. Not authentic Chinese food, that would probably be offensive. But greasy, sticky, sweet, white-people Chinese food. Is it deep fried? Does it have goopy sauce on it? Unexplained and probably unhealthy pockets of cream cheese? PAIRS WELL WITH BITTER THINGS.
"Ruthless Rye" by Sierra Nevada - ABV 6.6%
Pepper and spice and bitter and coppery goodness, oh my! And it wants, it NEEDS a burger. Desperately. Steak would be overkill. Get yourself a real burger - preferably rare, with any kind of cheese you like that's not american, and do NOT skip the fries. This is no time for salad. Fries and IPA are soulmates.
Well, now I'm starving, so I'm going to wrap this up. The world of IPAs is big and bitter, with an insane number of styles and a staggering number of hop varieties, and quite worth exploring. Don't be scared if you've tried a few and not liked them - just branch out to different styles and hops, get some food, and go for it.