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Milkshaking things up with our Hopzenberry Milkshake IPA

January 23 2018
January 23 2018

We at Ale Industries pride ourselves on our ability to stay on the forefront of craft beer innovation. Our Golden State of Mind is a perfect example of this; It’s so unique that we’ve designated our own style for it, which we call a “California Tea Beer” due to the addition of coriander, chamomile and orange peel at the end of the boil. In conjunction with a super clean California Ale yeast, you can taste some of the same flavors you find in Belgian beer, but without the funky phenolic aspects that you get from the Belgian yeast. We love to innovate with beer and love the fact that at some point, all the styles we know and love today didn’t exist. It took people taking a stand and imposing their tastes on the world for a “style” to come into existence.


Hazy & North Eastern IPAs

We’re seeing something similar happen in the craft beer world with hazy and New England style IPAs. They are notable for...being hazy, of course. But also for packing a lot of hop flavor and aroma without the hop bitterness typically associated with your favorite IPAs. This is achieved by adding hops at/toward the end of the boil rather than at the beginning, as the longer you boil hops, the more bitterness they impart in the beer.


Awesome mouthfeel from the grain bill

Hazy IPAs will also generally be thicker in mouthfeel than your traditional IPA (although you will also find pretty thick double and imperial IPAs as well, so this isn’t *always* the case). This is because brewers often use oats and wheat in the mash for hazy IPAs, which have proteins that don’t precipitate out of suspension in the beer (compared to a barely-only mash). Incidentally, these proteins are also what make the beer cloudy, hence the name.

You’ll also find lots of fruit flavors and aromas, which meld well with the thicker body to create a super-rich experience in flavor and aroma. This can run from stone fruit, to berry, to cherry to citrus - if you can dream it up, at this point, a brewery has probably tried it.


And of course, the controversy

Craft beer can manifest as a sort of religion for some, and accordingly, one man’s evolution or innovation is another man’s blasphemy. This is definitely true for Hazy IPAs. A quick trip to Google will yield countless results on both sides of the fence. This is to be expected, and it’s part of what makes the craft beer community so vibrant and fun. Passion for beer and discussion around this passion is a hallmark of the community.

But at this point, Hazy IPAs are here to stay and we now have lots of takes on the style by many breweries around the country. Brewers love to experiment and tinker, and although Hazy IPAs aren’t yet “mainstream”, a trip to a bottle shop specializing in craft beer (or your local brewery) will likely have a few examples for you to try.


Move over, Hazy IPA. We’re saving this seat for the Milkshake IPA.

So, to recap, Hazy IPAs are controversial but no longer the leading edge of craft beer. What’s next? Milkshake IPAs, of course!

What goes into a Milkshake IPA, you ask? Well, it’s all the great aspects of a Hazy IPA, but with an even thicker, super-rich and dense mouthfeel. This is achieved by adding lactose (a sugar derived from milk) to the boil. You see, lactose sugars are unfermentable by yeast, which translates to a thick mouthfeel and sweetness in the beer. This is different from a traditional IPA (or any beer, really) where fully-fermentable sugars derived from only barley are nearly completely transformed into alcohol, yielding body without nearly as much sweetness.


Ale Industries’ take on the Milkshake IPA

We have been following the Hazy IPA craze for a while now, and decided to have a go with our take on the Milkshake IPA, the Hazy IPAs even more controversial cousin. Our goal was a chewy-thick fruit bomb with fantastic hop aroma and balanced sweetness and flavor.

To do this, we settled on a grain bill with oats and wheat - and decided to forgo recirculation in the mash (called a turbid mash). Typically, after the malt is steeped to convert enzymes in the malt to fermentable sugars, water is circulated through the grainbed multiple times so that solids and proteins get trapped in the compacted grainbed, yielding a clearer mash which is then transferred to the boil kettle - where solids and particulates are further separated.

But in a turbid mash, you don’t do the multi-run recirculation, which means that more solids and proteins end up in the boil kettle, and thus in the final beer.

Another notable element of our Milkshake IPA was the addition of lactose to the boil for a boost of unfermentable sugars to yield a rich mouthfeel and sweetness to the beer after fermentation.

And for hops, we used Columbus hops in the whirlpool at the very end of the boil as we transferred to the fermenter to imbue lots of hop aroma with no bitterness.


Beer and Hop Innovation

We wanted to innovate further, though. We sourced a unique hop steam-distillate (think mad scientist and crazy hair in a lab with glass tubes everywhere trying to capture the very essence of hop flavor and aroma in a super tiny -- and expensive -- vial) from a company called Glacier Hops Ranch. This distillate would be what would add the hop component to our planned fruit bomb in the beer.

This was our first time brewing a Milkshake IPA, so before we proceeded with the infusion, we sampled the beer throughout the fermentation with different concentrations of the distillate to see what it would do. One thing is for sure: we can say that a *little* of this stuff goes a *very* long way! You remember that Looney Toons episode where While E Coyote creates an explosive mix and adds a single drop of the final ingredient, which results in a massive explosion, charing his face and body? It was a bit like that, but with our palate.


Speak to us, oh great Milkshake IPA. Tell us what fruit you need!

Once we dialed in the ratios and performed the infusion, we then needed to let the beer speak to us to tell us what fruit it might need. We knew that we wanted “fruit bomb”, but we know from experience that when you try to impose a flavor on the beer before you have actually tasted the beer, you can end up with a beer that isn’t the best it can be.

So what did the beer tell us? Raspberries. We all unanimously agreed that the beer would truly sing with raspberries. Many gallons of raspberry juice later, we were left with a beer we could all be proud of. A thick & rich fruit-bomb with amazing hop aroma and flavor and a wonderful sweetness that truly puts the “milkshake” in Milkshake IPA.

This beer isn’t for everyone, and no doubt it will create some controversy -- as you’d expect with any Hazy or Milkshake IPA. Interested in seeing what you think? We only brewed a single 15 bbl batch of this beer and it is available on draft only, so get it while you can! You can find it at our taproom in Fruitvale, or select craft beer purveyors around the Bay Area. If you’d like it at your local watering hole, please ask for us or let us know where you’d like to see us on tap. The more you ask, the easier it is for the buyer to make a decision to bring in a keg!


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