Standing in the beer aisle at a specialty grocery store near my house in Western Washington, I’m faced with rows of IPAs. Dozens of hazy, doubles, imperials, and even a few that have fancy names that just seem to be different varieties of IPAs. When did beer in the Northwest become synonyms with IPA?
IPAs are packed with flavor, but they’re often too heavy and boozy for me. I don’t want to get blasted every time I open a can. I don’t know enough about brewing to understand all of the different flavor profiles in a given IPA, but I know what I do and don’t like. And there are so many other interesting styles to sample.
I still occasionally enjoy a good IPA, but I feel like they haunt me whenever I’m looking for something new. 80% of the options at the store seem to be IPAs, which leaves 20% for different varieties and the big box beers. That’s a pretty small selection to cover all of the different beer styles and still find something new.
Icicle Brewing in Leavenworth, Washington has some fantastic flavors on their tap list. Sure, they have a healthy selection of staple IPAs, but I could live in a can of their Dirtyface Amber Lager. It’s sweet, not too malty, and I can still have a lucid and productive day after finishing a can. It’s refreshing. There’s not a single aspect that my palette has to forgive. And I love that the brew honors workers in central Washington – farmers, trail workers, and firefighters. It’s a good reminder that there are a lot of people who work to make Leavenworth and the surrounding areas such a fantastic place to visit.
I’ll order an amber or a Kolsch nine times out of ten if it’s on the tap list. I love stouts and occasionally a brown in the fall and winter. You may love a solid IPA on a hot summer day, but San Juan Brewing’s Harbor Hefeiwezen or Westcott Belgian Summer is about as close to heaven in a glass as I can get.
I recently spent several days in central Washington. I watched hoards of people floating the river. Walking back to the car, I passed trash cans overflowing with beer cans. Most of them were IPAs. Good for you if you’re an IPA fiend. The Northwest is the perfect place for you. But I think I need a break.
What’s your favorite brew? Are you an IPA fiend, or are you in my camp?