Beer of the Month: Epic Sour IPA
Brewery/Brand: Epic Brewing Company
Serving Style: Draft, 22-oz. bottle
IPAs are a hot item in Utah’s craft beer scene. Every brewery in the state has one, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the full-strength (true-to-style) version or the 4-percent, Utah-session variety—people want them, and they’re drinking the breweries dry. IPAs aren’t the only hot beer style out there, though. There is another trending style that’s busted its way onto the local beer scene as well—sour beers. These jaw-locking beers couldn’t be more different in taste to their English-inspired cousins. Whereas IPAs are malty and bitter, sour beers are massively tart and fruity. When a brewery faces two “must-have” beer styles and has the audacity to cross-breed them, they make sour IPAs! If you think this is a good idea, sit back and enjoy the show—if not, let’s see if I can at least try and expand your horizons a little.
Our story begins at Epic Brewing with brewmaster Kevin Crompton and his team of enthusiastic brewers. These guys never met a beer they didn’t like—combine that with the tenacity to invent something new to Utah, and you’ve got the basis of some serious “mad scientist” beer-bending. Epic’s been experimenting with the bitterness of hops and levels of acidity for over a year to come up with the right blend of sour, pucker and hop-smack to appeal to Utah’s ever expanding beer palates. All that hard work has paid off, and people have exclaimed, “We like it and we want more!”
The popularity of the test batches was overwhelmingly positive—so much so that Epic decided to include it in their new Utah Session Series of beers that hit grocery stores and bars last month. This is a beer that was made for session drinking (one after another).
Description: This IPA hybrid pours a slightly hazy, straw/copper hue, with a serious amount of effervescence and a healthy two-and-a-half fingers of puffy and pocky, bone-colored head. As the beer disappears from the glass, the head leaves a decent fence of foam lace around the glass. The nose is dusty and smells of grain and wood with a big lemon smack. Pine needles and musty grapefruit peel finish off the aroma, creating a bitter salad of sour orchard fruits, florals and dry wood. The taste starts sharp with big lemon and doughy malts. There’s a bit of harsh grain huskiness as well. Sharp cheese comes next, generating a ghostly sweetness on the back of the tongue. The end lends itself to the hops. Neutral citrus peel pops in, providing a twang on the sides of the tongue as a healthy dose of astringent pine resin wraps itself around some sour yeasty notes. It finishes bone dry, with the yeast, lemony wood and leafy hops forming a Potential Hydrogen “PH” tornado. The carbonation is fairly understated after its initial frothy overtures, and the body is medium-light in weight and not particularly smooth.
Overview: So this is what a “mad scientist” beer looks like. It won’t appeal to every palate, and it may surprise—pleasantly or otherwise. Fucking with the laws of beer nature can reap huge rewards or huge disappointments. Like all IPAs, this beer will shine while the hops are fresh, so take notice of its freshness. I’ve noticed over time that the hops can take on a cheesy flavor that can be off-putting. Ultimately, it’s you, the consumer, who will decide if cutting-edge brews such as these will stand the test of time, but you owe it to yourselves to get your asses out there and experience it for yourselves. You’ll be a better beer geek for it.