You may be forgiven for thinking that every new brewery is legally obliged to include an IPA in its range, such is the ubiquity of the style in these craft ale enlightened times.
So it’s no surprise that my first taste of a beer by Manchester brewery Squawk is their take on this dominant beer style. Like many new IPAs it has a slightly cloudy, pale orange appearance and features a proud, thick and unruly off-white head. It packs a high level of hoppiness with an initial malty caramel flavour quickly drying out to leave a strong, bitter buzz on the tongue and a slightly sticky sweetness on the lips. Like many of its contemporaries it’s an excellent beer.
If there’s a consistency in quality among modern brewers with their IPAs, one of the things that keeps the style interesting for drinkers comes from experiencing the different aromas and flavours each hop variety brings to the mix. We’re not nerdy enough to be able to identify every hop by taste, although we do occasionally guess correctly, so it’s always good to see brewers displaying their bitter arsenal on the label. Helpfully, Squawk have proudly emblazoned their choice of hops on the front of the bottle, and they’re two that will be familiar to most modern IPA students – Centennial and Citra.
Both of these hops are American, two of many punchy hop varieties that helped revitalise IPAs on that side of the Atlantic before the rest of the world caught on. Centennial is a bitter powerhouse, ramming its hoppy goodness into every beer it touches, bringing with it subtle floral pine and citrus essences, and is almost certainly responsible for that big bitter finish in Squawk’s IPA. Citra is very much a new kid on the block having been released to the world in 2007 (although some craft ale obsessives claim it’s overused and out of fashion already). It has more citrusy flavours but is chiefly noted for bringing a touch of the tropics to beers. Listed comparisons will often include passion fruit, mango and pineapple – I’m not sure I could specifically pick out any individual fruits but there’s a definite drop of fruity sunshine to citra infused beers. This becomes particularly noticeable when combined with a touch of sweetness, as in this IPA, although I won’t claim it’s enough to transport me from a cold, wet Somerset evening to a Caribbean island fantasy.
There are sure to be plenty more IPAs among our beers of the week, with infinite hop combinations to explore, and Squawk’s offering provides us with an impressive benchmark for the rest to follow.
Brewery: Squawk Brewing Company, Manchester
Beer name: India Pale Ale
Hops used: Centennial & Citra
Beer supplied by The Other Brew