US IPAs & especially DIPAs… I am not convinced. Sure, most of what hits the UK from the US is past its best by the time it reaches my mouth. So I’ve stopped putting it in my mouth. However I have had some pretty fresh stuff too – including Pliny the Ever Loved And Adored By All. I mean, Pliny the Elder – and it was a pretty good beer & I’m incredibly grateful to Kirk for sharing it with us… it ticked a box for me. That box being: hm, so I guess all these “wonderful” US IPAs really do taste like they have a caramel lolly in them. A flavour that is usually pinned down to the use of crystal malt. In the case of the Pliny it was lightly but distinctly present & the super-fresh hoppiness almost… almost… compensated for it. But for me… not quite, and I probably wouldn’t put it in a personal top-10-IPA-tastebud-experiences sort of list as a result.
Now – turn to UK renditions of this new-wave-IPA style and many are what I call “clean”… in my mind this is a defining difference between US IPA & modern UK IPA as styles. Most Kernel named-after-a-list-of-hops beers fit this, Hardknott Azimuth too I think… everything hoppy by Oakham, in fact Oakham probably defines the style for me. Green Devil… mmm. Other folk I know, often folk from the US, are sometimes heard to call my “cleaner” UK IPAs “unbalanced” – they seem to want more caramel lolly in their beer. I don’t get it. I’ve been perplexed enough about this huge gap between my tastes and what seem to be the tastes of the wider “craft beer” world to wonder if there is some hop flavour involved that I detect as caramel… I don’t think so. Perhaps I’m just over-sensitive to some caramel-type flavours for some reason, perhaps a “bug” in my brain means I don’t like the flavour.
It remains a puzzle. But that’s how it is – I remain unconvinced by US IPAs… however there are a hell of a lot of of US IPAs I’ve never tried. So one of these days I hope to visit the US and do a proper survey of the style as tasted fresh-as-a-daisy on its home turf. Perhaps I just haven’t found the ones that suit my tastes yet.