Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boulevard Brewing Co & Deschutes: Collaboration Number 2: White IPA

Hello hello, tonight I am bringing you an interesting review from two very well-known US brewers. The first: Deschutes Brewing Company based in Bend, Oregon. They are responsible for so many good beers it's ridiculous. Most commonly known: Black Butte Porter, Obsidian Stout, Twilight Summer Ale, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Inversion IPA, and Jubelale. The others you may not be familiar with: Jubel Once In A Decade Ale, The Abyss, Mirror Mirror, Hop In the Dark, Hop Henge, Red Chair IPA, their yearly anniversary series and many others I have no knowledge of. The second brewer behind this collaboration is one you may or may not be familiar with: Boulevard Brewing Company. Based in Kansas City, Missouri they are primarily known for brewing delicious Belgian style beers. Every beer I've sampled from them has been brewed in the Belgian style. This is the third I've had the privilege of sampling from Boulevard. The other two were: The Sixth Glass (a quadrupel), and the Double-wide IPA. Both quite strong and very well done. Their beers are routinely ranked high and when I heard about a collab with Deschutes I was definitely intrigued. Ironically this fits well with my last review (Fog by Birrificio Sant'andrea) which just so happens to have been a Belgian Style Witbier. The base for this White IPA just so happens to be a Belgian Style Wit so I won't need to explain the flavour profile on this style of beer (it's primarily coriander and orange peel and this one is no different). But that's simply the base, how did the two breweries make the decision and is there anything else added to enhance, intrigue, change, or alter the standard body and flavour of the witbier? Good question, let's find out...

After months of experimenting, the story behind this beer finally comes to light. Two breweries mutually respected by one another decide to brew a new style of beer to showcase their fortès: Deschutes being IPA's and Boulevard being Belgian Style Ales. Somehow they decide upon a White IPA: the blending and creation of some kind of hybrid between a wit and and an American IPA; two very different styles. So what other kinds of things do they add to boost the flavour profile (besides a generous portion of hops)? Try Lemongrass and Sage. These two ingredients (at least in the Boulevard version) were added post-fermentation. This means that after the beer was racked (removed from the fermentation tanks) the brewers added the ingredients directly to the beer. The result is an infusion of the two herbs into the beer. I don't know in what proportions the herbs were added, but this concept alone was enough to intrigue me. Sage and Lemongrass, hmmmm........

The idea for this beer grows evermore interesting when I find out that these two breweries decided upon one recipe and brewed them separately at their own facilities. Undeniably this will lend a specific uniqueness to each beer. Right now I've only been able to find the Boulevard version of this beer, but I am planning on making a roadtrip to Deschutes and perhaps I can find a 22 oz bottle of their version. Who knows? But one thing is for sure, based on the information, knowledge of IPA style beers and witbier, this beer promises to be one heck of an anomaly. Alright so enough with the talking, let's fast forward to the tasting notes!

Name: Collaboration No. 2 White IPA
Category/Style: White IPA
ABV: 7.40%
IBU: 42
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: Lemongrass, Sage
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: Corked 750 mL
Location Purchased: PCC, Issaquah, Washington

The Pour: Cloudy golden yellow. Head is off-white and thick. Nice retention. Nice lacing.

The Nose: Screams Belgian: yeast, cotton candy, bubblegum, bread, candy sugar, and soapy hops. Also a noticeable amount of citrus/grassy hops; this one has definite IPA qualities. A bit deeper is the Lemongrass. It smells citrusy and refreshing. Lots more resinous hops shine through as well as a bit of the spice: coriander. Lots going on in this brew. It's tough initially to pick out the sage amongst the other aromas, but I'm certain I can pick it up way at the back.

The Taste: Bright explosion of carbonation on the tongue. The spice hits initially, which then gives way to a bitterness that lingers on the back of my tongue all the way through. Lemongrass, citrus, and a touch of sage comes next. It has a definite refreshing quality, almost a herbal medicinal quality. I'm also picking up some brighter fruity floral notes rising up into my nose; makes me imagine running through a field of wildflowers. The body is medium, mouthfeel is somewhat sticky/resinous. The fact that the witbier base is used, allows the alpha acid in the hops to dominate this one. Mildly sweet throughout and finishes with a touch of honey-like sweetness. I'm also picking up some fresh cut grass and floral notes on the finish. This beer is not at all like I was expecting.

The Verdict: Well I suppose I had constructed an entirely different picture of what this beer would be like in my mind before tasting. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing. In this case definitely a good thing, but it also took me a little while to get used to such an unusual assortment of flavors. Taken at face value this beer is exactly what it promises: a hybrid between IPA and witbier. I was originally turned off to it due to the extremely resinous nature of the hops which seemed to infiltrate every inch of this brew. I was expecting a bit more balance and far more influence from the witbier base. I also initially thought the taste was more along the lines of cough syrup but it was only once I had a few sips under my belt that I realized how truly magnificent the beer really was. It's really unlike anything else I've tasted. The hops are present throughout and dominate the beer, but somehow the rest of the flavors manage to rear their heads. I pick up a lot of the Lemongrass as well as Sage. I'm also picking up loads of floral aromas and fresh cut grass. The cough syrup I picked up initially mellowed out into more of a medicinal quality (which I am assuming is the result of the blending of Lemongrass and fresh Sage) and I also picked up an inherent sweetness throughout and on the finish which to me tasted mildly like honey. As I work my way through the bottle I am enjoying this one more and more. As it warms it gets better as the other flavors appear more readily throughout. At 7.4% it's not a weak brew by any means but the alcohol is not noticeable at all. I can actually imagine drinking a pint of this on a warmer day. It has an unmistakable refreshing quality about it and that is something I really appreciate. When I originally heard about the release of the brew I was intrigued. A White IPA sounded intriguing enough and when I cracked this bottle open the different kind of beer I was expecting is exactly what I found. If you like IPA's and want to try something completely different, or just enjoy off the wall beers you should track down a bottle of this and give it a shot. I don't think it's for everyone but give it some time and don't base your judgement on the initial taste. Let it warm up a little bit to allow for full enjoyment of the wide realm of flavors you're sure to encounter. Highfive to Deschutes and Boulevard Brewing Co. for producing something far from the norm and doing a good job of it too :]

Thanks for reading!


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