Friday, March 23, 2012

Saranac White IPA and the Joy of Hybrids

Here is a post where I am going to make a statement, then promptly contradict myself (a little). 

Statement: I really don't like when a beer doesn't fit within its set-forth tasting guidelines. 

Contradiction: I love when styles are blended. 

In this case, the beer doesn't match either of the two "parent" styles, but takes a bit from each, creating a unique tasting beer. Some of these hybrid beers are relatively common, like the Black Saison. Technically, a saison is light in body and exhibits a refreshing taste. They should never be dark in color, unless they are a Black Saison. These use darker malts to give a completely different feel to the beer. I suppose my issue is when a brewery makes an Imperial IPA and calls it a Pale Ale. Not the same.

Misrepresenting beer is really my pet peeve. Hybrid, on the other hand, I am cool with. In fact, many of my home brews are kind of hybrids. I just appreciate when this is noted, so I know what I am getting into.  Today's beer is the Saranac White IPA. As the name suggests, it is a Wheat IPA, generally a style that is not made. The closest style is probably a Wheat Pale Ale, the style that most "Summer" beers are. To me, it is more like a blend between a Belgian Witte beer and an American IPA. 

I initially bought the bottle because I had never seen the style. I was skeptical, but the taste was actually great. Don't judge the style before you try it. It becomes clear that the Matts (the brewing brothers that own Saranac) knew exactly what they were doing in making this beer. The bitterness that is normally associated with an IPA is balanced well by the sweetness you would normally expect from from a Witte. The result is kind of what I expected from the beginning, tasking almost like someone paired a Witte and an IPA and mixed them together, which was better than I expected. 

The best way to describe it in my mind is that it tastes like a very flavorful British IPA. The body is very smooth and the taste is subtle. The hops are present, but not overbearing. The sweetness is pleasant, not cloying. Everything was in perfect balance. I would suggest this to anyone that likes both of the styles. Even if you are feeling adventurous (you don't need to be very adventurous) it is a good buy from a great New York brewery. Plus, the White IPA comes in the spring variety pack from Saranac, so you get to try a bunch of great beers at a very reasonable price. I really wish I had some more of this, because as the weather is getting warmer, I'm finding myself craving one in the warm, sunny afternoons. 

Glassware: Pint Glass, Hefe glass

Synonym Beer: A more flavorful Deuchar's IPA (Unless you are from Scotland, you probably don't know it)

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