A Wild IPA By Any Other Name…
Wild IPA is an anomaly in the beer world. It might fit in somewhere in the countryside of Belgium and France or on a sunny beach on California’s central coast. The Belgian-style IPA, or Brett IPA, doesn’t receive a lot of love in the brewing world because it is hard to pigeonhole it. Sometimes you get those funky brett farmhouse aromas, other times the Belgian yeast strain will overpower any hops. Brett will dry the beer out and the bitterness can be overpowering.
The beauty of the Wild IPA, and what people might be missing out on, is that the evolution of the beer is what makes it interesting. The best examples will have an incredible pungent hop aroma, some flavor and a low bitterness from withholding the bittering hop completely. This is what you will expect from any young IPA, just bottled, fresh and clean. Over time the Brett in the beer will transform those aromas and start to give off new funk and esters. This is where the beer truly earns its name. Wild beers pass through different phases, some favorable, others...well,that depends on your personal tastes.
Our Wild IPA has changed its expression over the years, usually based on the brewer that is brewing it and the care they give to it. One of the fun parts of my job is that I get to brew a beer that I want to drink. For me at The Libertine, that means a flavorful and aromatic IPA, with big expressions of citrus, stone fruit, and pine with a bitterness that will move from low to high as the beer dries out in the bottle. In 6 months I hope to revisit it and find some farmhouse aromas and dried apricot taking over the nose and in a year I want to see crazy pineapple flower and tropical notes. This is my hope but, as this is a wild beer, I can only attempt to domesticate it.
Expect to see new bottles of Wild IPA on your shelves and in our restaurant and pub in the next few months. Until then, there are still reserves of the last batch that are exhibiting some new and interesting variables. Worth a shot if you’re into the science and research of this whole thing (read: drinking).