Confession: I am a hop fiend. When I reach for a pint glass I love to be hit by that pungent, often grassy smell, that sharp bite of flavor – at times fruity, floral, citrusy – that lingering bitterness on the tongue: all the signs it’s chock full of hops. So imagine my delight when I found out last Thursday was IPA day – IPA, or India Pale Ale, being the beer most famous for packing a punch of hops in every sip. In honor of this most sacred of days, this week’s column features an IPA currently on tap at Dear Bushwick on Wilson Avenue: Southern Tier IPA, brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company, based out of Lakewood, New York.
Southern Tier’s IPA pours a golden amber with a thick white head. IPAs tend to really smell like the hops that make them shine, but Southern Tier doesn’t fully deliver here, only producing a mildly hoppy aroma. When you take a sip the hops are present with a nice bitter edge – a little bit piney, a little grapefruity – but there are a lot of sweet malt flavors going on too, dominating the taste is a surprising way for an IPA. It finishes out in a clean, smooth aftertaste, and with a middle-range 7.3% alcohol this is a highly drinkable IPA, if not a true stand out.
Back in the day, when the sun never set on the British Empire, thirsty Brits baking under the hot Indian sun longed for some brisk ale from home to cool their palates. Alas, when their English ales arrived in port after far too long at sea, they were quite a bit worse for the wear. Nothing stimulates innovation like the need for a nice cold one, so savvy Brits soon deduced that since hops are a preservative, adding more to their ales helped maintain beer quality over long distances. To balance out the bitterness of the hops the ended up adding more alcohol, also a preservative. Thus, not only did the exiled Brits find a way to get their buzz while abroad, they also created one of beer’s most distinguished styles: the IPA.
My second and final confession for the week is that the Southern Tier IPA is nothing special in and of itself. But, enjoy a glass sitting on the back porch of Dear Bushwick on a Saturday afternoon with a group of friends and a pile of mussels in front of you, and the IPA experience elevates to a pretty excellent level and one I quite highly recommend.
3/5 stars – 1 for balance, 1 for drinkability, and 1 for being a solid representation of a style that deserves all the appreciation of its own special day.
Dear Bushwick is located at 41 Wilson Ave, and is open for dinner daily from 5pm – 11pm and serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. They serve the Southern Tier IPA by the half pint and pint, for $3/$6 respectively. Order mussels for the table for $13.
Bushwick Brews is a weekly column dedicated to the exploration of Bushwick’s finest beers written and curated by brewista Erin Wicks.