Samuel Adams includes a lesson in India pale ales in its new IPA Hop-ology variety 12-pack.
Last year, Samuel Adams began educating its fans about hops when they released the Latitude 48 Deconstructed 12-pack.
The Latitude 48 Deconstructed featured the popular Latitude 48 India pale ale, and five different versions of the beer, all brewed with one of the five hops used in the original Latitude 48. It was meant to show what flavors and qualities an individual hop added to a beer.
Now Samuel Adams is back at it again, releasing the IPA Hop-ology variety 12-pack, which features six styles of IPA.
“It’s unusual to get them all at one time,” said Samuel Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch. “It’s just about educating people. Until you actually taste them together, you really don’t have an opportunity to see the differences. I think it’s very educational to taste beers side by side.”
The new 12-pack features two bottles each of the Latitude 48 (American IPA), Dark Depths (Baltic IPA), Third Voyage (double IPA), Tasman Red (red IPA), Whitewater IPA (white IPA) and the just-released Grumpy Monk (Belgian IPA).
Each beer is very different in taste, as well as in alcohol by volume (ABV) and international bittering units (IBUs), which is the measure of how bitter a beer is.
The lowest ABV and IBU beer is the Grumpy Monk at 5.7 percent ABV and 55 IBUs, while the highest is Third Voyage at 8 percent ABV and 85 IBUs.
One of the goals of the new Hop-ology Variety pack is to show the evolution of IPAs over the years.
“IPA now basically means a big, hoppy beer,” said Koch. “What IPA means to brewers today is to amp up the hops, mostly with American hop varieties. IPAs have changed. Now it’s any style with more hops.”
The pack showcases that. The two most traditional beers are the Latitude 48 (my favorite of the pack) and the Third Voyage.
However, the rest are all different. Dark Depths is basically a Baltic porter (a porter brewed with lager yeast instead of ale yeast), but hopped up like an IPA. It is similar to the ever-popular black IPAs that are flooding the market today.
The Tasman Red is another style growing in popularity. Brewers are taking the traditional red ales and loading them with hops. This is one of the better versions of the style.
The Whitewater IPA may be the newest of the IPA styles. A few brewers have been taking the popular Belgian witbier style, and adding hops. Samuel Adams’ version includes apricots. The style has been well-received by beer drinkers although I have not been a huge fan of the style in general, although I have only tried three or four.
The Grumpy Monk, which was released this month, is a very good Belgian IPA. Belgian IPAs are typically brewed with a Belgian yeast, which gives it that distinctive “Belgian” taste, but is hopped. This is a style that can go awry easily, but Samuel Adams does a good job of balancing out the various flavors, making this an easy drinking, pleasant beer to drink.
Koch hopes to continue educating people about IPAs and other styles of beer, but he does not know what IPA-themed pack will be coming out next year.
“We’ll find something that will educate people’s palates,” he said.
Norman Miller is a MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/.