In the American craft brewing industry, no style serves as a weather vane more than the IPA. Due largely to the style’s embrace of hoppy flavors, IPAs (and to a lesser extent pale ales) are the proving grounds for all sorts of beer-related innovation. And with that innovation comes the birth of industry-wide, taste-making trends.
It’s amazing how quickly many IPA-related fads will come and go in just a few years. Each “hop of the moment” is celebrated as the hot new thing on the brewing scene before it too is replaced by the next popular variety. One day it’s Cascade—then Centennial. And then Amarillo or Simcoe. And then Citra, Summit or Mosaic. It’s an ever-evolving sequence of new tastes that are capable of redefining a beer style hundreds of years old.
In the last few years, one of the major trends in IPA’s has been hops from the Pacific Rim. Whether it’s Galaxy hops from Australia or Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand, they’ve made a major impact on IPA’s in particular with a broad array of new, fruity flavors. And brewers have responded by cranking out a huge wave of beers featuring these new hops.
Schlafly’s Tasmanian IPA is one of these beers, not especially innovative in its concept but absolutely spectacular in its execution. Solely hopped with Galaxy hops from Australia, it is amazingly complex from the very first whiff. These hops explode with aromas of mango, passion fruit, pineapple, apricot and basically every other tropical fruit that one might use to construct a large, edible hat. It’s the kind of beer you can smell immediately after prying off the crown cap, before even pouring it.
The taste is likewise fruit-forward, reminiscent of melon, grapefruit and apricot, backed by a sweetness like wildflower honey. Any bitterness is mild, melded into the fruity bouquet as just a slight counterbalance to the rush of tropical flavors. It’s like the beer equivalent of eating an entire package of tropical Starburst candies at the same time—not even close to balanced but a decadent treat to lovers of fruity IPAs.
Some fans of the American IPA style, with its archetypal notes of citrus and pine, will likely find this beer disorienting, but look past style guidelines and you’ll see that this is an outstanding beer. There are plenty of IPAs on the market featuring the same Southern Hemisphere hops, but few breweries have crafted such a standout beer with only one variety. In this, Schlafly’s Tasmanian IPA is at the very top of its own IPA subgenre. If Schlafly can get a year-round source of the hops, this beer deserves year-round availability.
Brewery: Schlafly Brewing
City: St. Louis, MO
Style: American IPA
Hop Varieties: Australian Galaxy
Availability: Until the end of January, get it while you can