Brilliant malt use in hoppy beers

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by beardown2489, Apr 8, 2017.

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  1. beardown2489

    beardown2489 Devotee (491) Oct 5, 2012 Illinois

    i think this is a good subject for us beer geeks to talk about.

    I know there are some on here that really appreciate balanced hoppy beers.

    I've had a few beers lately that really made me appreciate balance.

    Odell just made it to Chicago (THANK THE LORD)

    I think Odell is masterful with their balancing of hops. IPA is a classic, but I think Myrcenary is the best example of a perfectly balanced imperial IPA.

    I think I just found a local example of this in Chicago and I'm excited to see what others think.

    Lots of breweries just feature hops hops hops. But I think many of us know the beauty of allowing the consumer to experience flavor from each of the ingredients.

    This is a nationwide question. Are there any beers in your region that show off the malt without sacrificing the hop flavor? Any beers that are so balanced it's noteworthy to this thread?

    I enjoy the best examples of the New England style, but I think this thread should be for breweries that are searching for that perfect recipe with a beautiful sweetness along with a aroma and flavor from hops.
    #1 beardown2489, Apr 8, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
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  2. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,464) Sep 15, 2014 Colorado

    Crystal malt is overused and overrated. It's too sweet and syrupy. Any combination of pale 2-row and/or pilsner malt, preferably with wheat or oats, is best, imo. Honey malt is also great if used tastefully in small amounts.

    This is a great subject to me, because, as I grow older and more picky and burnt-out on IPAs, the thing that really stands out to me is the malts that IPAs use. Malt is the canvass for the hops. Hops are the focus, but the malt is what makes or breaks the beer--so, anymore, I'm just as ready to discuss types of malts as types of hops.
  3. beardown2489

    beardown2489 Devotee (491) Oct 5, 2012 Illinois

    I'll go first.

    These are many in Chicago.

    18th street has made two recently that caught my attention. Rise against the angles and Villan both are perfectly balanced IPAs.

    Dovetail had a lager that is brilliantly balanced between hops and malt. It is their house lager. It's got an initial crispness, followed by a perfect residual sweetness.

    I think there are two major options in Chicago that get forgotten. Those are Anti Hero and Daisy Cutter

    Both of these beers are nicely balanced and sell well, but as Chicago discovers the NE style, Chicago beer nerds rarely spend their money on a known beer that is easily available .

    I'm sure this trend isn't unique to Chicago. What are some of your favorite beautifully balanced IPAs?
  4. TonyLema1

    TonyLema1 Poo-Bah (1,932) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

    I always thought the well established craft breweries (DFH, Bells, Founders) brew very well balanced IPAs
  5. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,977) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Society Trader

    King Sue, Hopslam, and The Waldo's. Quasi-locally, West O (West Okoboji, IA) 10 Foot 10 is on par with DFH 90-Minute - IMNSHO, of course.
    moshea likes this.
  6. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,628) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I'm a hophead, so I don't think a beer is unbalanced on the hop side until it tastes like hop tea. But maybe that's the way that everyone else defines 'unbalanced' too?
    beardown2489 likes this.
  7. Wasatch

    Wasatch Poo-Bah (7,354) Jun 8, 2005 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I like the malt blend in the Trilliums, they do it pretty well.

  8. ESHBG

    ESHBG Devotee (429) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    For me DFH 90 Minute and Flying Dog's The Truth come to mind. I had The Truth for the first time recently and enjoyed it way more than I was expecting to because of how well the malts played with the hops.

    That's about right for me and when it is all bitter and "one note" it's in unbalanced territory for my palate. I am not much of a coffee drinker but an analogy that comes to mind would be coffee: black coffee has that certain taste and adding just a tiny bit of something else to it can make it more "balanced".
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  9. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'm thinking that "balanced" in the case of aromas and flavors is one of those terms relative to the individual using it. So far as I can tell it requires a lot of skill on the part of the brewer to produce a beer that shows off the hop flavors without being tounge raspingly, painfully bitter or without showing so much malt that the beer seems to lack hop flavors at all.

    For myself, I agree, "balanced" is a range rather than a single focal tipping point that puts beers into an "either/or" situation.
    HorseheadsHophead and laketang like this.
  10. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Definitely find 90 min. is the same for me. Even aged for several months it still retains lots of hop flavors that play nicely with the malts.
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  11. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,200) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Harpoon IPA has a great malt base probably one of my all time favorites. Flying Fish HopFish is my local choice for an EIPA. Blind Faith by Magic Hat is also pretty good (when they bring it back occasionally, that is)

    Another one I loved is Double Hopped IPA from Old Bisbee Brewing. Don't let the name fool you, it's a classic English IPA all the way brewed with 5 different malts apparently. If you find yourself in Southeastern AZ be sure to give it a try (their Royal Stout is world class too)
  12. StetsonWeizen88

    StetsonWeizen88 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2010 Texas

    Nothing better than a balanced India Pale Ale where the biscuit/toast flavors of the malt are nuanced alongside the bright hop flavors. I would also add in yeast character. As my palette grows more mature and refined, these are aspects I now seek in IPA's over straight hop juice. When all of these things are coalescing together, this is the sure sign of a talented brewer.

    I have never drank any of Shaun Hill's beers from Hill Farmstead, but I read he is a master at utilizing the mash in IPA's. Two widely distributed India Pale Ale's that come to mind for great malt usage are Bells's Two Hearted and Sierra Nevada Torpedo.

    Living in Texas and being newly introduced to The Great Bells's Two Hearted Ale, I'm amazed by the nuances of that beer. It automatically ranks as one of my favorite India Pale Ales. I would add that Union Jack has a wonderful malt foundation. All three great breweries who make me really proud to be an American beer drinker. Cheers to malt in IPA's! (When done right, of course,).
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  13. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I'm thinking I expect my IPAs to be a touch on the unbalanced side, but just a bit, if not you get an awful session IPA. It's Dipas where it gets really tricky, you have an abundance of hops and a higher malt bill to soften the hops and increase the Abv. Too much and you get a sticky tasting Dipa which I don't like. This is where different beers that are really quite different really shine, both Heady and Pliny are absolutely magnificent. There's others I've had like Ju Ju , Trillium thst are world class as well and nicely balanced. But I find boozy overly sweet Dipas a real turn off as much as I find beers like All Day and the like. Then I'd much prefer an AAL or better yet a lager or Pils.
    Premo88 likes this.
  14. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,264) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    We just got Funky Buddha's Hop Stimulator here which I thought had a great balanced caramel malt flavor that wasn't too sweet or boozy, and a touch of spice and pine from the hops. I also thought some of the bigger DIPA releases lately like Avery Maharaja, 21st Amendment Blah Blah Blah! and Great Divide Hercules were pretty good and balanced with the malts as well. I like DFH 60 Minute but can't say I'm a big fan of 90 Minute as that gets a little too candied toffee/honey sweet for me. Racer 5 from Bear Republic is really good as well.
  15. ESHBG

    ESHBG Devotee (429) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Can't forget about Victory Hop Devil, the malts really shine in that one too.
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  16. hopsputin

    hopsputin Poo-Bah (2,734) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    English Pale Ale's/IPA's I'd say fit the bill. FW Double Barrel, London Pride, Commodore Perry.

    Some American IPA's strike that nice balance for me as well - 90 Minute, Jai Alai, Hop Devil.

    Some of the hoppier Stouts also feature roast malt rather nicely. Storm King comes to mind.
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  17. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Two beers that have been around for a long time are excellent examples of what your asking about. Anchor Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
  18. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Deschutes Mirror Pond has great malt flavors.
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  19. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,423) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Society Trader

    I'm no Brewer by any stretch of the imagination, so I can't offer Technical input, but what I do know is that I have always felt that Two Hearted really nailed the hop/malt balance just about as brilliantly as anyone ever could.
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  20. beardown2489

    beardown2489 Devotee (491) Oct 5, 2012 Illinois

    Blah Blah Blah was actually another one that has stood out recently for me. I remember thinking that Hopslam fans would really enjoy that one. I don't think it's got honey, but I remember there being a similar body and sweetness.
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  21. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (2,072) Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I really like when hoppy beers have flaked wheat, acciduaded malts or a tiny amount of oat. I think it adds to the texture.

    I dislike ipa with caramel malts, I prefer things like pale, 2 row, Pilsner malts. A more crackery base with only little sweetness. Enough so it's not a hoppy pils. But not sweet to be 50/50 sweet to bitter ratio. I'm picky because I need my favorites in the sea of ipas. A lot are too sweet for me and I am satisfied with bitterness.

    Risk sounding like a snob but I know what I like. Life's too short to drink beer you don't like.
    #21 Urk1127, Apr 9, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  22. YamBag

    YamBag Initiate (191) Feb 2, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I've always loved the malt hop balance in Union Jack. It's one of my favorite IPAs
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  23. Premo88

    Premo88 Poo-Bah (2,143) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    Lone Pint Brewery in Magnolia, Texas

    Yellow Rose is our most famous IPA in state, and I'd submit the reason is because Lone Pint knows how to load up an IPA/DIPA with tons and tons of malt yet keep that malt from masking or disguising the hop flavor. As much malt as Lone Pint uses, you'd think their beers would become awful malty messes as they age, but my experience is they don't. The malt does start taking over a bit but never to the full detriment of the overall beer. @Urk1127 may have touched on why (avoidance of crystal malts) but I'll be honest: I have NO idea the malts used in Lone Pint's IPA/DIPAs. I do know Lone Pint loves to make SMaSH IPA/DIPAs.

    Like some others in here, I personally prefer unbalanced IPA/DIPAs. Stone Enjoy By, for example, and that kind of punch-in-the-face bitter grapefruit is my favorite note in these beers, and too much malt (used deftly or not) lessens that punch.

    I have had Pliny the Elder before but it had about 4-6 months age on it ... I think @nc41 points this out: amazing how even that old, that beer (and beers like it) still shows how awesome it is. I've no doubt it's 10 times better super fresh and I'd love to try some, but old Pliny the Elder is still pretty dang hoppy with a great balance of malt.
  24. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,264) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    Try to get your hands on Avery Hog Heaven. That is pretty delicious as well, labeled as an Imperial Red IPA. New 4 pack 12oz cans just got released. Definitely worth checking out. Super hoppy with a unique combo of deep rich malts. I thought it was beautiful. That reminds me Stone - Pataskala Red IPA is really good too.
    #24 StoutElk_92, Apr 9, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  25. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    It makes me sad avery succumbed to the ipa branding with that beer, but it makes me ecstatic they put it in cans now.
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  26. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,264) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    It was the first time I saw and had it, and maybe because it was so fresh (03/03/17) it was definitely more Red IPA tasting than Barleywine to me. At 9.2% though it is on the border, but the flavors were a lot more fruity and flavorful than the typical American Barleywines I have had. I was picking up some strawberry jam notes, with citrus and even some tropical flavors as well with the bittering resinous earthy herbal piney hops and the complex malt character. It is a very complex and interesting beer. I do want to see though if it gets more barleywine-esque in the can over time. I might just get another 4 pack and age some for a while as I drink the others in a fresher stage.
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  27. ESHBG

    ESHBG Devotee (429) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    I haven't had this beer in quite some time and picked one up last night, still such a great beer! I had a Stone IPA right after and I definitely prefer the Racer 5.
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  28. BrewsOverHoes

    BrewsOverHoes Poo-Bah (1,543) Nov 17, 2013 Georgia
    Society Trader

    A fresh AleSmith IPA is hard to beat balance wise. Goes overlooked I think. But everytime I see it on a tap somewhere I order one because I know it's just gonna be on point.
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  29. deleted_user_1007501

    deleted_user_1007501 Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2015

    Stone Ripper had a really unique malt quality. Biscuity with a bit of spicy bite, darker color for a pale ale. I really loved it.
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  30. akolb

    akolb Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2015 Colorado

    Agree with the OP that Odell IPA and Myrcenary are beautifully balanced, with rich caramel sweetness that does not diminish but rather accentuates the hops.

    Also Upslope Imperial IPA. I know some consider Upslope IPAs to be too malty (read: balanced), but I like them that way.
    #30 akolb, Apr 9, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
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  31. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    It has always been on that line, is it a triple ipa? Is it american barleywine? American strong ale? Glad you enjoyed it, no matter what it's called Hog Heaven is a top notch beer.
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  32. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2009 California

    All this fuss due to Myrcenary? Have you had a Pliny???
  33. readyski

    readyski Defender (603) Jun 4, 2005 California
    Society Trader

    Isn't that what an English IPA strives for? Sometimes I want a bit more flavor than in my face hops. To me Anchor embraces that idea.
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  34. papposilenus

    papposilenus Poo-Bah (2,063) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    This is probably down in the weeds because I don't know who outside Mass. could get ahold of it but I just had my first Cat's Meow from Exhibit A and, although the hopping was terrific, what really impressed was how well built the malt body was.

    For me, it's as much about the feel of the beer as the taste, especially when oats are used. I love that hefty, chewy sensation.
  35. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,464) Sep 15, 2014 Colorado

    That's my IPA malt preference to a tee. Have you had Ommegang Nirvana IPA, Victory Vital IPA, or Southern Tier Nu Skool IPA? I love the malts on those. A huge, pungent fruity hop presence with a minimal cracker/honey sweetness.
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  36. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,464) Sep 15, 2014 Colorado

    IPAs that feel like you're drinking a milkshake are the best.
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  37. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (2,072) Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I have had two of the three. I can't find the southern tier but they have an unfiltered DIPA that came out I'm going to try very soon. I really liked Ommegang Nirvana IPA and their Great Beyond DIPA.
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  38. jmosborn

    jmosborn Initiate (0) Jul 30, 2011 Michigan

    Hopmouth Double IPA from Arcadia with Maris Otter malt together with the holy trinity of Columbus, Cascade and Centennial does it for me. Great balance in this beer.
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  39. WillemHC

    WillemHC Initiate (154) Jun 21, 2013 Utah

    I'm curious about why you're fond of Trillium for their malt usage. I find their beers to be a bit one-dimensional with little malt backbone or complexity. For the hazy IPA guys I thought The Veil had much more variety in malt flavor and complexity balancing the hops.
    surfcaster likes this.
  40. Wasatch

    Wasatch Poo-Bah (7,354) Jun 8, 2005 Colorado
    Society Trader

    There's just a small malt note, but it blends in really well. I think they are very complex for IPAs/DIPAs, you do not hear the word complex in those styles, but their citrus profiles are very complex to me, lots of different fruits. In a way, they are kind of one-dimensional (within brewery), but I've only had a few different ones. To me, they are very tasty, go down so easy, addictive.:slight_smile:

    Squire likes this.
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