In recent years, the craft beer scene has witnessed the emergence of a fascinating beer style known as Mountain IPAs. These brews have gained considerable popularity among beer enthusiasts, captivating their taste buds with a unique blend of flavors and aromas. In this article, we will recap the origins of Mountain IPAs, explore their distinctive features, and uncover the reasons behind their growing popularity.
Positioned between the bold bitterness of the West Coast style and the luscious juiciness of the Hazy (East Coast IPA), the Mountain-style offers a harmonious fusion of the best of both worlds – an intriguing East-meets-West affair.
Distinctive for its elevated hop profile that showcases enchanting pine and resinous notes, the Mountain IPA also captivates with upfront hops boasting a delightful fruity aroma, gently balanced with a more subdued juiciness. The beer presents a slight haze, a result of the generous hop load, which contributes to a smooth drinking experience with a refreshing, crisp finish reminiscent of classic IPAs.
Unlike the palate-wrecking bitterness often associated with West Coast styles or the almost smoothie-like juiciness found in the East Coast variants, the Mountain IPA strikes a delightful middle ground. It achieves a perfect harmony, offering complexity without sacrificing extreme drinkability.
Features of Mountain IPAs
Mountain IPAs embody a unique character that sets them apart from traditional ‘clear’ IPAs and hazy IPAs alike. These beers leave a wide playground for creativity which makes them so intriguing to experiment with. Here are some notable features:
- Fruit-forward, piney finish hop profile: Mountain IPAs highlight juicy, fruity hop flavors upfront, combined with a robust bitterness and a resinous, citrusy, or piney hop character at the finish. This combination leaves the palate refreshed, ready for the next sip.
- Balanced Malt Backbone: While hops take the center stage, Mountain IPAs maintain a well-balanced malt backbone to support the intense hop bitterness. The malts contribute to a moderately creamy mouthfeel, slightly hazy in appearance, creating harmony with the hop-forward nature of the style.
- Crisp and Refreshing: Mountain IPAs are known for their clean and crisp finish, making them highly drinkable even with their assertive hop profiles. This quality, coupled with the early juiciness in the flavour profile, makes them appealing to a wide range of beer enthusiasts.
Popularity of Mountain IPAs
The popularity of Mountain IPAs can be attributed to several factors:
- Unique Flavor Profile: Mountain IPAs offer a distinctive flavor experience, combining the best of East and West Coast IPA styles. This fusion of flavors appeals to craft beer enthusiasts seeking novel and memorable drinking experiences.
- Craft Beer Culture: The craft beer movement is still growing strong, with an increasing number of consumers seeking out unique and flavorful brews. Mountain IPAs, with their innovative approach, align perfectly with the ethos of craft beer enthusiasts.
- An Appetite for Fusion: Similarly to fusion cuisines and an exploding number of experimental beverage creations from wild fermentations to unique flavour combinations, today’s day and age sees a great drive from both consumers and producers to experiment with new taste combinations, texture experiences and unique flavour and ingredient pairings. Mountain IPAs fit this trend perfectly as they allow the consumer to expand their horizon on what traditional IPA styles have to offer.
Mountain IPAs have carved a unique niche within the craft beer world, drawing inspiration from their various styles and captivating beer enthusiasts with their distinctive flavor profiles. As the craft beer movement continues to flourish, the popularity of Mountain IPAs is likely to grow, offering both a taste adventure and creativity expressed through the beer making process that make each brew special. So, the next time you find yourself craving a bold and refreshing beer, consider reaching for a Mountain IPA and embark on a journey through hops, mouthfeel, and unique taste experiences.
Laughing Bones Brewing Mountain IPA series
At Laughing Bones Brewing we have been pioneering the Mountain IPA style in New Zealand. Fascinated by the potential of flavour expression and intrigued by the possibilities this new style offers from a brewing ingredients and process perspective, we have embarked on a journey to brew distinct variations of this interesting beer style. The beers are brewed as single batch releases which we have done nine times so far, with the exception of Yeti Zone, brew number 9 for which demand was so incredibly high that we decided to re-brew it. The beers vary in their affinity towards East vs West Coast style, but all within the defined style parameters. We are now on brew number 10, Hang Ten, a special brew celebrating the 10th birthday of our brewery. The beer features 10 different hops culminating in an amazing hop crescendo, reaching for new heights on this Mountain range!