Dogfish Head / iStock
Dogfish Head / iStock

6 IPA Beers to Try This Summer

Dogfish Head / iStock
Dogfish Head / iStock

Happy National IPA Day! Celebrate the holiday by cracking into one of these hoppy but refreshing beers.

1. FLESH & BLOOD // DOGFISH HEAD

Blood oranges are known for their intense citrus flavor, but also for their dark, almost gorey insides. Delaware brewery Dogfish Head plays off this macabre imagery with a new IPA called Flesh & Blood. The flesh in this case is lemon pulp and the blood is blood orange juice. The brewery also selected special hops to include: “Warrior, Centennial, and a rare experimental hop.” The citrusy beer is tart but very drinkable, especially on a hot day.

2. HOP ‘EM HIGH // LONERIDER

Premiering in late June, this double IPA packs a hoppy punch. The North Carolina brewery included Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe hops in the brew. Drinkers will enjoy a light citrusy flavor with a hint of pine. The amber-colored beer is sold in 12-ounce cans.

3. HI-10 // TERRAPIN

Is there anything more summery than a surf-themed can of beer? In July, the Georgia brewery Terrapin released a new 12-ounce can of beer called Hi-10. The new beer, which is part of the brewery's Side Project Series, is a spin-off of an earlier brew called Hi-5. This imperial IPA is made with mangos and habanero peppers, making it a spicy but fruity choice. Looking ahead, the brewery is also releasing a beer called Luau Krunkles this fall, which will have tropical fruits like passion fruit, orange, and guava.

4. WATERMELON DURADO // BALLAST POINT

Watermelon is a divisive ingredient in beer, but lately the watermelon lovers seem to be winning as more beers are featuring the fruit. Ballast Point released their dangerously strong Watermelon Dorado in 12-ounce can form earlier this year. The brewery recommends you enjoy this beer with a summery meal like a shrimp po boy or pineapple custard. At 10 percent alcohol by volume, you probably won’t need to down too many of these before needing a nap on a pool float.

5. MASTER OF KARATE // ASLIN

Coming from the beloved Virginian brewery Aslin, this rare beer debuted earlier this year as a crowler. The IPA was created using Galaxy, Mosaic, and Amarillo hops and has over 8 percent alcohol by volume, making it fairly strong. Despite the name, it doesn’t look like this beer has anything to do with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

6. REBEL GRAPEFRUIT IPA // SAM ADAMS

Despite its large scale, Sam Adams is still technically a craft brewery. The company tries to embrace this title with their series of Rebel IPAs. Their latest addition to the collection is this summery IPA. The beer is made with Mosaic, Citra, Centennial, and Cascade hops, in addition to grapefruit peel and added grapefruit juice, ensuring the drinker won't want for flavor, and has an ABV of 6.3 percent.

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Big Questions
Is There Any Point in Letting Red Wine Breathe?
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by Aliya Whiteley

At the end of a long day, few things beat simple pleasures like watching a good film, eating a bar of chocolate the size of your head, or drinking a big glass of red wine.

By this point in the evening, most people don’t want to be told that they need to uncork the bottle and let the wine sit for at least 30 minutes before it becomes pleasantly drinkable. Yet that's (by the letter of the unwritten law) what you're supposed to do.

But why? Well, let's start with the assorted historical reasons.

Red wine has been around since the Stone Age. In fact, in 2011 a cave was uncovered in Armenia where the remains of a wine press, drinking and fermentation vessels, and withered grape vines were uncovered; the remains were dated at 5500 years old. Early winemaking often had a ritualistic aspect: Wine jars were found in Ancient Egyptian tombs, and wine appears in both the Hebrew and Christian bibles.

The concept of letting wine "breathe" is, historically speaking, relatively new and probably has its roots in the way wine was once bottled and stored.

Traditionally, sulfur is added to wine in order to preserve it for longer, and if too much is added the wine might well have an ... interesting aroma when first opened—the kind of "interesting aroma" that bears more than a passing resemblance to rotten eggs. Contact with the air may have helped to remove the smell, so decanting wine may once have been a way of removing unwelcome odors, as well as getting rid of the sediment that built up in the bottom of bottles.

It’s also possible that the concept springs from the early 1860s, when Emperor Napoleon III asked Louis Pasteur to investigate why so much French wine was spoiling in transit. Pasteur published his results, which concluded that wine coming into contact with air led to the growth of bacteria, thus ruining the vino. However, small amounts of air improved the flavor of the wine by "aging" it. In bottles, with a cork stopper, the wine still came into contact with a small amount of oxygen, and by storing it for years the wine was thought to develop a deeper flavor.

However, how much of that actually matters today?

Many experts agree that there is no point in simply pulling out the cork and letting the wine sit in an open bottle for any period of time; the wine won’t come into enough contact with oxygen to make any difference to the taste.

However, decanting wine might still be a useful activity. The truth is this: It entirely depends on the wine.

Nowadays we don’t really age wine anymore; we make it with the aim of drinking it quickly, within a year or so. But some types of wine that are rich in tannins (compounds that come from the grape skins and seeds) can benefit from a period of time in a decanter, to soften the astringent taste. These include wines from Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, for instance.

If you really want to know if a particular wine would benefit from being given time to breathe, try your own experiment at home. Buy two bottles, decant one, and let it breathe for an hour. Do you notice a difference in the taste? Even if you don’t, it's an experiment that justifies opening two bottles of wine.

One word of warning: No matter where a wine comes from, it is possible to overexpose it to oxygen. So remember Pasteur’s experiments and don’t leave your wine out of the bottle for days. That, friends, would be one hell of a waste.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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A Beer From the Middle Ages Is Making a Serious Comeback

Hop-forward beer is all the rage today, but in the middle ages many imbibers preferred brews that skewed towards the sweeter side. Now, centuries after it fell out of fashion, Atlas Obscura reports that gruit ale is making a comeback.

Gruit beer is any beer that features botanicals in place of hops. The ingredients that give the drink its distinctive sweet, aromatic taste can be as familiar as ginger and lavender or as exotic as mugwort and seabuckthorn. The herbs play the role of hops by both adding complex flavors and creating an inhospitable environment for harmful microbes.

It may be hard for modern beer lovers to imagine beer without hops, but prior to the 16th century gruit was as common in parts of Europe as IPAs are in hip American cities today. Then, in 1516, that style of beer suddenly vanished from pint glasses: That was the year Germany passed a beer purity law that restricted beer formulas to hops, water, and barley. Many of the key botanicals in gruit beer were considered aphrodisiacs at the time, and the rising Puritan movement helped push the brew further into obscurity.

Hops have dominated the beer scene ever since, and only in the past few decades have microbrewers started giving old gruit recipes the attention they're due. In 2017, the Scratch Brewing Company in Illinois released their seasonal Scratch Tonic, made from a combination of dandelion, carrot tops, clover, and ginger. The Põhjala Brewery in Estonia brews their Laugas beer using Estonian herbs, caraway, and juniper berries. Get in touch with your local microbrewery to see if they have their own version of the old-school beer in their line-up.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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