Just as is the case for many of the newer and not so new styles of beer there are stories and embellishments of those stories that describe their origin. From the origin of the venerable India Pale Ale (IPA) to Cream Ale to California Common Lager to the new craze of Hazy IPA and beyond there are stories associated with them to define and explain how they came to be. So of course, there is a history and a bit of folklore about the beginning of the Milkshake IPA style, but there is little doubt about the first creators. To the best estimate, milkshake and smoothie IPAs trace back to 2015, when Omnipollo brewing from Stockholm started using various fruit and big doses of complimentary hops combined with New England-style IPA brewing techniques to launch a range of what they called “Smoothie IPA’s”. That same year Omnipollo collaborated with Tired Hands Brewing of Philadelphia to take the smoothie experience to the next level by using oats and wheat in the grain bill and adding lactose, strawberries, and vanilla beans. They called this simply “Milkshake” and a style was born or sort of. Both Smoothie and Milkshake are generally recognized as sub-styles of New England-style aka Hazy IPA’s.
From these humble beginnings the style has been embraced around the world and evolved into a category simply referred to as “Milkshake IPA”. The evolution has primarily been centred around which fruits to use and what other adjuncts to use. The endgame is to produce a beer, an IPA to be exact, that emulates some of the qualities of a milkshake. Lactose is added for mouthfeel, vanilla beans for aroma and fruit as the flavour base. The range of fruits used is endless, from berries to stone fruit to citrus and even cocoa and beyond. Wherever possible the hops are chosen to complement the qualities of the chosen fruit. Citrus, stone fruit, tropical, berry and minty are some of the hop characteristics that are targeted by the brewer.
The Milkshake Experience
Much of this sounds very strange for a “beer” so what is the experience that a Milkshake IPA brings to your palate? Well, the strait up answer is that it is complex and at first sip a bit confusing. The confusion starts with the aroma, even though vanilla is not sweet our brains have been trained to associate it with baked goods so when we get the aroma of vanilla our brain says “sweet”. Also, the intense fruit aroma signals a sweet experience. From first sip the fruits come on and fades quickly into a juicy, vibrant hop experience ending with and IPA-ish short bitter burst of hop goodness. Throughout, the lactose and hazy IPA brewing techniques provide the semblance of a creamy, milkshake-like mouthfeel. This all contributes to the initial confusion and sends you back for another taste to verify the experience. All in all, Milkshake IPAs are easy drinkers and good pairings with spicy and bold foods and great to enjoy with friends on a sunny day.
Shake Your Mangos
At Laughing Bones Brewing we took on the challenge to deliver on the promise of the Milkshake IPA by staying as local as we could with the ingredients. We choose mango as our fruit and stone fruit centric hops (mostly New Zealand origin) to complement the mango. The malt and oats are all New Zealand grown. Our vanilla is also locally sourced from a kiwi company supporting Tongan vanilla bean growers and lactose, well there is plenty of that here in New Zealand. Using techniques familiar to brewing hazy IPAs and judicious doses of all the key component we created “Shake Your Mangos Milkshake IPA” which has been widely embraced by beer aficionados and foodies alike. The complex but smooth experience of Shake Your Mangos has been judged top 5 hazy IPAs in New Zealand by Dish Magazine where it was described as “a dangerously drinkable example of a flavoured hazy style with vibrancy, balance and uniqueness”. Check out the Dish Magazine article here or pop over to our shop to buy online.