We here at BeerWhere have not fully jumped on board the IPA train that has charged through breweries all over America. Since it’s not unusual to see the taps at your local watering hole dominated by an array of India pale ales so we felt we should make a stronger effort to figure out what we like about this style of beer rather than retreating behind a wall of comforting malt.
A few years ago, a friend shared a can of Wilmington Brewing Company’s All the Cool Kids Are Doing It and swore that this was something truly different from the bitter, piney West Coast style IPAs we didn’t care for. He was right; ACKADI had the piney, grassy notes you expect from an IPA but a very clean finish that left no unpleasant aftertaste of resins. Today Wilmington Brewing bills ACKADI as a New England-style IPA, which usually means it has a citrus flavor to balance the pine. I don’t remember those fruit flavors from when I originally tried it.
The juicy IPA takes the New England-style IPA dials up the flavors of citrus and stone fruit. These tastes don’t usually come from fruit juices or peels; instead they’re from hops (like Citra, Mosaic, Galaxy, Amarillo and El Dorado) and from the yeast. When we spotted cans of Wilmington’s Jorts Party Juicy IPA from Wilmington Brewing at Beer Study, our local bottle shop, we decided it was time to give a beer from Cape Fear another shot.
Cracking the can open releases a powerful burst of citrus, pine and grassy aromas that provides an accurate forecast of what’s in store. The beer is a dark straw color and hazy. A thin, white head made of large bubbles clings to the side of the glass. Once poured, the smell of citrus — orange and grapefruit — dominates.
Jorts Party uses Warrior hops during the boil phase of brewing, which impart the characteristic IPA bitterness along with pine and grapefruit flavors. Mosaic hops are added later in the process to allow their extremely complex flavors—expect citrus, mango, berry, spice, floral and more—to serve as a counterpoint to the Warrior hops. This creates a very balanced beer with both notes of piney bitterness and a strong citrus flavor that is very drinkable, tasty and refreshing, even at 8.5% ABV (so exercise caution). The alcohol provides an underlying warmth as you continue to drink, but the flavor of the beer is not boozy at all.
Wilmington Brewing is known to offer a number of New England-style and juicy IPAs, such as Kitten Biscuit New England-Style IPA and Tuesdays with Sally Juicy IPA, with many of them only available occasionally or as one-offs. You never know what surprises they might have in store.