Fearful Symmetries

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16 September, 2015

The India Pale Lager from Up Nort: IPL from Leinenkugel's



Yesterday I looked at Central Waters' IPL and today we have another. This time it's from Leinenkugel's.

Apparently the powers that be at Leine's took some time off from brainstorming more "shandy" flavors (can a limited edition yuzu-chipotle-tamarind "shandy" be far off?) to address the current hop craze. The result was their new(ish) IPL (a.k.a. – India Pale Lager). It is at once a concession to current trends with a firm emphasis on hops and its attendant "I/India" marketing meme as well a nod to tradition in being a lager.

The beer was initially introduced last fall on draught only at various establishments in the brewery's hometown of Chippewa Falls as well as in Madison and Milwaukee. But in late June/early July (or thereabouts) bottles hit store shelves. According to Leine's website, IPL is available year-round.

IPL pours a beautiful clear gold color. I got a really big foamy, white head that proved to be in no hurry to go anywhere. In the beer itself there was a goodly number of bubbles forming on the bottom of the glass and then floating upwards. From a visual perspective, IPL was quite aesthetically pleasing.

IPA had a similar smell to that of Central Waters' Summarillo. There was a distinct citrus/grapefruit aroma along with pine from hops. Leine's claims there are five varieties of hops in IPL but their website only lists two - Hallertau Mandarina Bavaria and Ahtanum. Elsewhere I've read that the remaining ones are Hallertauer Herkules, Citra, and Cascade. A nice mix of German and New World hops that mirrors the style's mix of trendiness and tradition. The malt aroma here was more prominent than Summarillo's with more potent notes of honey and raisins.

Although IPL and Summarillo are in the same ballpark as far as flavor goes, there are some significant differences. Both have a prominent citrus taste. Four of the five hops in IPL contribute citrus qualities with Hallertauer Herkules being the lone holdout. However Leine's went for grapefruit whereas Summarillo leans more towards orange. IPL also distinguishes itself with those Hallertauer Herkules hops. They take no guff from their citrusy counterparts and impart a strong, fragrant piney/resiny taste. Again we have that trendy/traditional dichotomy at play. While the hop flavors were certainly out front, there was a definite malt sweetness to be had. There was a certain earthiness to the malt on the nose which was lost on the tongue. The malt tasted more doughy with a caramel flavor too.

The beer finished clean and dry just like one would expect. Those Hallertauer Herkules stayed the course and left some lingering spicy/pine bitterness. My glass was left with some really nice, thick Schaumhaftvermoegen. With Leine's IPL your glass will be pretty from pour to final swig.

IPL is a very fine beer. It's a bit bigger than Summarillo coming in at 6% A.B.V. and 57 I.B.U.s. Still, it was rather easy drinking with a medium-light body and a nice smoothness. Caramel malts give a bit more sweetness for the hops to play off of but the beer never tastes heavy. There's simply a really nice interplay of flavors here. Yeah, the emphasis is on the hops but the malt never lets you forget it's there. To my tongue the citrus/grapefruit flavors come first and then are superseded by the spicy/resiny ones which take you into the finish. This seems rather fitting for a beer from Leinenkugel's, a brewery steeped in German lager traditions. It's as if they let the young whippersnappers their turn but then followed that up by giving notice that tradition endures.

Junk food pairing: Pair IPL with some Asian fare such as Oriental snack mix with its Yin/Yang pairing of delicate rice crackers and wasabi-laden peas or for a heartier meal, fry up some shrimp chips. You know, those oddly-colored chips that are like Shrinky Dinks until you fry them whereupon they poof up like a Cheetoh.

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|| Palmer, 12:58 PM

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