Back in the day (like, eight years ago), IPAs pretty much only came in one shade. They were like divorced rabbits: hoppy and bitter, and that was about it. There were only a handful of commercially available hop varieties to work with at the time, so flavour-wise the options were limited. So often the only thing that differentiated one IPA from another was the IBUs. The more hop bitterness you could pack into a pint, the better, apparently.
Unsurprisingly, this turned many people off of craft beer, and “hoppy” beers in general.
Thankfully, the hops arms race is over. Brewers realize that hop flavour and aroma are also important things to consider when constructing an IPA. Some forego any hop bitterness at all.
That said, I still love the dank, piney, resinous bitterness of those old school IPAs. And sadly, modern IPAs, especially that of the hazy variety, seem to have done away with any malt character whatsoever.
Which is why I’m loving Over Them Mountains by North Vancouver’s Beere Brewing. Although billed as a West Coast IPA, it’s really more a hybrid between the modern tropical fruit-forward IPAs and the old school piney hop bombs. It’s the best of both worlds, really. The tropical fruit is right up front with notes of pineapple, mandarin orange and melon, while on the back end there’s some assertive hop bitterness and that classic citrus-and-pine dankness.
While not crystal clear like the classic West Coast IPAs, Over Them Mountains is also not thick and chewy like many modern IPAs—again, it’s right in the middle with a medium body, a lovely straw gold colour and a slight, translucent hop haze.
Some hardcore hop heads might miss the good old days of 100+ IBU facemelters, but I’ll take a flavourful, well-balanced beer any day, and Over Them Mountains is just that.
Over Them Mountains by Beere Brewing
7.7% ABV • 473 mL cans
Appearance: Translucent straw gold with a white meringue-like head.
Aroma: Pineapple, citrus, pine, tropical fruit.
Flavour: Tropical fruit, pineapple, mandarin orange, citrus, melon, pine, dankness, moderate hop bitterness, slight cracker-like malt character, very smooth.
Body/Finish: Medium bodied with an off-dry finish and some lingering hop bitterness.
Pairs with: Pork carnitas tacos, spicy pad thai and misplaced nostalgia.