One of the perks of my day job is that my company has affiliations with The Growler Guys, so (full disclosure) I get to taste a fair amount of beer and from time to time meet new folks in the industry. Such was the case this week, as Todd Marshall, the regional sales manager from Boise, Idaho’s Sockeye Brewing stopped in to drop off samples of their new pineapple-infused IPA that they brewed as a collaboration beer with The Growler Guys.
The beer itself is essentially their Dagger Falls IPA brewed with pineapple purée, and will be on tap (I believe) exclusively at most of The Growler Guys locations in all three Pacific Northwest states as well as at Sockeye itself (I would assume). Sockeye brewed up the beer in collaboration with the Meridian, Idaho Growler Guys, and they are able to distribute at least a keg to each of the other participating locations. Todd dropped off not only several crowlers of the new Pineapple Dagger Falls to sample, but also a lineup of their other beers.
Naturally, we had to do a side-by-side tasting of the regular Dagger Falls with the pineapple version.
These were the first beers I’ve had from Sockeye Brewing, so while I cannot speak to their overall lineup (yet), I can confidently say their year-round Dagger Falls IPA is a solid American/Northwest example of the style, with citrus bittering and plenty of pine and juniper notes to make it floral and resiny. It’s well-balanced at 6.5% alcohol by volume, is a clear golden-orange in color, and, as Dolly of The Growler Guys said, “It’s legit!” It hits all the right marks and is clean and drinkable.
On to the pineapple. My understanding is, it’s the same base beer, just with the added pineapple purée, so this provides an excellent illustration of how the fruit changes the beer. If you’ve had Ballast Point’s Pineapple Sculpin, you’ll likely recognize similar characteristics; and in fact I’ve tried Pineapple Sculpin fairly recently with friends, and didn’t care for it that much—compared to regular Sculpin IPA and in particular Grapefruit Sculpin, I found the Pineapple lacking both in fruit flavor and hop character.
The story here is similar—however (spoiler alert!) I will say I think the Sockeye version is better than the Ballast Point version and the fruit is more prevalent. But, the hop character is definitely diminished (as with the Sculpin) which leads me to speculate whether the same enzyme in pineapple that tenderizes meat (bromelain) also degrades hop flavor.
You can tell from my picture above that this beer is hazy, and a lighter golden yellow color than the regular IPA. It’s definitely less pungent, with a muted aroma that has hints of the fruit with the resiny hops taking a background role.
The flavor story is similar: it’s a bit sweet up front with pineapple rind and juice, and the hops become more woody and herbal, almost pitchy, in the presence of the pineapple, and recede a bit into the background. While more “woody” it’s less bitter, which is where I get the impression of pineapple rind. Other impressions I wrote down while I was drinking this are: aloe vera, prickly pear fruit, hop stems, earthy, pineapple skin, bark (not sure what kind of bark though), and underripe stone fruit.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice beer that will play very well with warmer weather, and like I said above I think it’s a better pineapple IPA than the Sculpin version from Ballast Point Brewing. Just don’t expect to get the same hop-juice IPA character that you will from the regular Dagger Falls—you’ll get an entirely different kind of juice character, and the fresher you can get this, the better it will be. If you’re interested in trying this, keep an eye out at your local Growler Guys for when it goes on tap.