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Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Visit to the Hoptometrist

I am unapologetically a Hop Head. I can’t get enough IPA. I brew IPA’s, I drink IPA’s, I dream about IPA’s. India Pale Ales are the number one selling craft beer style in the United States. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts there are in increasing number of craft breweries in Germany, but their IPA’s generally fall short of an American IPA. Entering my third year in Germany I can safely say German craft brewers are making significant progress and closing the gap with American breweries. I have had the pleasure of experiencing the German hop revolution first hand.

This weekend the navigator and I joined four of closest friends at the 4the annual Stuttgarter Craft Beer Festival.  Sponsored by the owner of Kraftapaule beer bar (A close friend) the Craft Beer Festival is a must visit for all craft beer aficionados in the Stuttgart area. We arrived at the crack of 12 noon to find at least 200 people had beat us to the punch. Not surprisingly my first beer was a farmhouse ale by Kesselbrauer. A quaffable saison type beer. Best to ease into things. Naturally my second beer was an IPA. Not just any IPA but a spruce tip IPA by Lost River Brewing. The only thing I love more than IPA is a SPRUCE IPA and this beer hit the mark!  At first sniff subtle hints of spruce and hops tickle your nostrils.  A quick taste tells me all I need to know, a well-balanced spruce beer rivaling many of the U.S produced spruce beers. Four hours and 12 beers later I returned to Lost River Brewing for a farewell glass of spruce tip IPA and perhaps a case of bottles to go. Unfortunately, Lost River doesn’t bottle their spruce tip beer. Not only that they had kicked their keg, NO SPRUCE TIP BERR FOR YOU! I cried as the brewmaster tried to console me. The brewmaster reassured me that they would brew another batch which should be ready in 6-8 WEEKS! Oh, the humanity

In contrast to American craft beer festivals German craft beer festivals allow you to choose the size of your tasting with sizes ranging from 100 ml to a full 500 ml pour. No tokens, cash only based on your sample size. Suffice to say my “Samples” were all “Adult-sized”. Another unique part of the Stuttgarter Craft Beer Fest was the introduction of every attending  brewmaster.
Here are my top five IPA’s :

1.       Lost River Spruce Tip IPA (See above)

2.       Hey Joe Double Trouble IPA- Amazing IPA only available on tap. A hopper stronger version of their Mad Dog IPA

3.       CAST Double IPA- A local Stuttgart craft brewery who seem to have it figured out. Their IPA’s have improved significantly since I first tried them 2.5 years ago/

4.       Hey Joe, Mad Dog IPA- A solid IPA and my annual “Go-To” and the craft beer fest.

5.       Brassiere Boum’R Imperial IPA- This brewery had five beers on tap, all IPA’s. I have had many sucky French craft beers. These guys stand above every French beer I have ever tried. Viva la IPA!

Nearly three years into German tour one thing is evident, Germans are rapidly figuring out the secret to IPAs and I for one am ecstatic!  As we enter the height of the European craft beer season I leave you with a hint of my next trip:

 Until next time,

Stay Crafty my friends.