I don’t normally drink anything that says “IPA”, but I’m drinking through the entire regular list at my local beer bar (200 beers on my list and they sell a lot more than that), which is forcing me to try things I might not normally try. Well, last night I was extremely glad for that fact. This Meantime IPA (from England, bottle conditioned, from a 330mL) was fantastic. It is extremely hoppy, as expected, but it’s not that punch-you-in-the-mouth-with-no-apology kind of hoppiness that I get from most American IPAs. Instead, I found great balance here. The bitterness is totally under control (maybe there’s just a hint of residual sugar to balance it out? I thought so but couldn’t tell for sure) and the hops are providing gorgeous aromas and flavors of flowers, orange lemon citrus, and peachy stone fruit. There is also some malty flavor present which, although the beer is still quite light in color and body, balances the hops nicely. There’s quite a bit of complexity here, which glides effortlessly across the palate without anything sticking out or seeming out of place. The finish is fairly long and mellow, leaving me wanting another sip. IPA is normally something I enjoy smelling but not drinking, but this beer was downright delicious. I finished it much faster than expected because it was tough for me to put it down. My girlfriend (another hater of most US IPAs) also really enjoyed it. This is the first beer labelled “IPA” that I will buy for drinking at home. I think the key here is balance, something that, for my taste, most IPAs fail to achieve. Well done. outstanding.
If anyone wants to post here about other Meantime beers I’ll change the title of the thread. The porter’s not too shabby either, but I haven’t had it recently enough to write a note.
very nice note, doug. i think you captured the essence of this beer perfectly! it’s among my least favorite IPA’s – but my reasons are all the same ones you give for likinig it so much – it just boils down to how much you like hops.
i think you’d probably like just about any IPA originating from Scotland or England – they all tend to be much milder and “balanced” than American IPA’s. In fact, now that I think about it, I cannot come-up with one Scottish or English IPA that I actually like “as an IPA.”
Thanks for the note Doug. I’d love to try that one. I picked up the Samuel Smith’s IPA today out of curiosity because like you I steer clear of IPA’s since they all seem to be about the enhancements instead of making a good beer.
This is all confusing. I don’t think it comes down to “how much you like hops” as much as it comes down to how the hops are used. Again, its a LOT like the use of oak in wine to me. 95% of wine drinkers like wines with a lot of oak on them. But many will complain about overt oak and that is in how its used. I would say the same about hops. I love hops! I’d just like it to be part of a complete package instead of the main feature.
Fair enough. But, you don’t like them enough to want them to be the main feature, right? I think the comparison to oak treatment in wine is apt, although I wonder how many winemakers who slather their wines in oak truly meant for their wine to taste like a lumber yard; brewers who use copious amounts of hops in their beers often (such as with brewers of West Coast style IPA’s) intend for their beers to taste like liquid hops. Regardless, we’re obviously on the same page of understanding here … we just have different opinions about the page!
This sounds right up my alley and very similar to the single hop, 10, and Green Gold I recently have worked through from Mikkeller the Belgian IPA brewer. All but the Hoppy Easter (a bitter mess of a “German style IPA”), have that same balance of hop flavors and smooth texture without ever going over the top in any area. Love them!
Bzzzzt!! It’s not! Those Mikkeller brews are waaay more hop-forward than the Meantime. Meantime IPA is closer in style to a moderately-hopped American Pale Ale – think Mendocino Brewing Company’s Pale Ale, or even the Pale Ale by Deschuttes.
True; I understand where you’re coming from … Buuuuut, you have to understand where Doug is coming from; he said he doesn’t normally drink anything that says “IPA” on it, and then he rails on the American IPA’s you enjoy so much. Your idea of balance in an IPA is likely quite different than Doug’s idea of balance in an IPA.
well, enough with this supposition; let’s just ask Doug!
Doug, have you had any of the Mikeller IPA’s? If you have, what did you think of them?
Fair enough. When I say I love hops but don’t want them to be the main feature it is because I see them as part of the whole. I love malt too but but I rarely enjoy overly sweet round caramel bombs either. My usual experience with heavily hopped beer is something like “Hmmmm…nice taste initially…carries through the midpalate…BAM, now my tongue is blanketed in bitterness and I can’t taste the beer anymore.” From that stand point I see them as a one trick pony and I wish the beer makers efforts were more available to me beyond the fact that he knew where the bag of hops were.
But since Frank Murray is now drinking Chablis, I have hope for you.
English hops are also less intensive by their nature, puting out around 10%-15% fewer IBUs than American hops, and are less citrusy, almost herbal. The English IPAs tend to not do as aggressive a dry hopping at the end of the brewing process, which is where a lot of the extra citrus aroma comes from in American IPAs. They also tend to be less malty than American IPAs. Even when I’ve had the occasional ‘strong’ IPA from England, they rarely have the iron fist presence of some ‘regular’ American IPAs.
To get an idea of ingredients vs technique, try the Stone 14th Anniversary Ale. Essentially it’s Ruination using 100% English hops, malts, and softened water. Very unique.
RE: Mikkeller Single hops. Definitely more American influenced than English, but well balanced and executed so they aren’t quite as jarring. Mikkeller is part of the whole international brewing collaboration thing going on with breweries like Stone, BrewDog, Victory, De Proef, etc., who all tend to have a fairly agressive style.
that hope is currently being realized with my developing tastes for Belgian brews (even ones that aren’t sour!). I don’t think I’ll ever stop liking big OTT American IPA’s, though — after all, my favorite fruit is the grapefruit: just peel that sucker, and eat like an orange – Yum!!
thanks for your entire post, Matt – interesting info.! This little tidbit, however, especially intrigued me because I’ve been wondering what the Stone 14th is like. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go pick up a 14th and a Ruination, and do a side-by-side blind tasting.
EDIT: Cris, if I’m successful in finding the 14th, I’ll just save it for OCP4W on the 31st.
Fortunately I’ve got a great local beer bar and I was able to try 6 of the Mikkeller single hop beers in 2 flights of 3 small pours each. I only liked 1 of the 6, the rest were too over the top hoppy for me. I agree that this is an “international” style, leaning towards the American IPA style in my mind, but extremely well done for what it is. I will say that I greatly enjoyed the aromatics of every one I tried, but I really disliked the flavor of most.