The recently debuted Milkshake IPA from Dublin-based Rascals
Beer has been around for millennia. Yet, not content with making the same old beers for thousands of years, brewers, being inventive sorts, are on a continuous quest to push the boundaries of beer making by improving processes, experimenting with adjuncts and continually creating new beer styles.
In recent years we have seen the emergence of Black IPA, a style the was entered into the Brewers Association’s guidebook in 2010, while Wild Beer as a style was entered in 2014.
Another new brewing style sweeping our palates is the Milkshake IPA. This beer style first became popular a number of years ago and recently, at the Altech Craft Brews and Food festival in Dublin, Inchicore-based Rascals Brewing Company were showcasing a freshly-brewed a mango and passionfruit milkshake IPA called Froots and the Maytals.
In a glass, these frothy, creamy beers hardly look like conventional beer at all. They could easily be mistaken for a cloudy fruit juice.
Milkshake ales are hoppy beers, usually IPAs, with lactose sugar added to the brew alongside other ingredients such as fruit purees, and even some wheat which will result in a recognisably cloudy brew.
Lactose is a non-fermentable sugar, this means that yeasts can’t break it down. After fermentation, lactose remains in the beer, giving body in the form of a milky mouth feel and some residual sweetness.
Wheat flour, pectin and a generous use of hops usually finish off this style, giving it a distinctly murky, cloudy or milkshake-like appearance. Pectin, which is found in abundance in fruits such as apples, is an essential setting agent in jam. In beer, pectin causes an almost gel-like thickening and a visible haze, something brewers generally try to avoid in other beer styles.
Milkshake ales are often called New England or Northeastern-style IPAs, a geographic nod to where the style originated.
We can trace the term milkshake to Jean Broillet IV, the owner and brewmaster at Tired Hands Brewing Company, based in Pennsylvania.
Broillet paired up with the inventive Swedish brewery Omnipollo in March 2015 to produce a beer they — now famously — called a Milkshake IPA.
The previous year, Omnipollo had produced a “smoothie” IPA. The next brew was boundary pushing and unlike anything beer drinkers had tasted before.
Apart from wheat beers, cloudy or hazy beer were, and still are, regarded with caution by wary beer drinkers who expect clear, golden pints.
This beer was brewed with oats and lactose sugar to create a weighty mouth feel which was supported by a 7% ABV.
Wheat flour and over 20 kg of pectin-rich green apple puree were added.
Post-fermentation, vanilla pods and another high-pectin fruit strawberries, completed the mix. Finally, the beer was dry hopped with fruity Mosaic and Citra. The beer’s unique challenging appearance, texture and flavoursome profile divided opinions.
BeerAdvocate co-founder Jason Alström visited Tired Hands and was underwhelmed when he first tried these new styles of cloudy beers — “not feeling it with this brew” he wrote in a review, “extremely cloudy and a mess to say the least…Milkshake beers are not a trend or acceptable with traditional or even modern styles…No excuses. [sic]”
Little did he know that hazy to opaque beer would not be regarded with such scepticism a few years later and that cloudy beers have become synonymous with the craft beer.
Judith Boyle is a qualified chemist (MSc) and accredited beer sommelier. Susan Boyle is a playwright, artist and drinks consultant. See www.awinegoosechase.com.
Both sisters are proud to be fifth-generation publicans. Their family business is Boyle’s bar and off-licence in Kildare town