The second of the two beers I received from Widmer last week is their latest offering in their Rotator IPA series, Spiced IPA. This one has an interesting provenance, as it is (as far as I know) the first collaboration beer Widmer has brewed with a homebrew club that isn’t the Oregon Brew Crew; the recipe for the unusual beer originated with the homebrew club, QUAFF out of San Diego.
In the spirit of collaboration, we teamed up with San Diego’s Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity, or QUAFF for short, to brew Spiced IPA, a beer that offers an intriguing twist on the West Coast’s favorite style. Blending familiar flavors with unexpected ingredients, this hop-forward yet balanced IPA is brewed with malty assam black tea, ginger, cinnamon, clove, star anise, black pepper, and cardamom. The beer and the spices come together, much like the brewers behind it, to create on amazing brew.
Essentially the beer is spiced with a complex, chai-like tea—combining the black tea and spices to high effect, and in fact as part of the gimmick of the PR package I received, there was included a bag of what is essentially this tea mix for which I could brew up tea with, and get a sense of how the spices would present normally. (Similar to having a bag of loose hops on hand to smell, taste, and so on.)
Spice IPA finished out at 7% alcohol by volume. It’s also new enough that I’m not sure it’s hit the shelves yet.
Appearance: Crystal clear copper-golden color, with a fine series of bubbles rising to feed the off-white head.
Smell: Black tea along with light citrus hops; other spicing that reminds me of cloves, orange peel, sweet tea; cotton candy hops.
Taste: Bitter-forward flavors that combine resiny hop stems with strong black tea and some fruity notes. Very earthy and maybe a touch of tobacco. Very interesting and characterful, lots of layers (though “tea” is the predominant essence for me).
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a spicy, earthy, bitter aftertaste.
Overall: I keep sipping to explore the spicing, it’s earthy and complex and much more “savory” than “culinary” (or dessert-y) which definitely is appropriate for this style… assuming this is a “style”…