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Hark! An Underrated IPA

Illustration for article titled Hark! An Underrated IPA

Last Thursday was declared IPA Day by whichever marketing monkey’s turn it was to throw that particular dart, which means the Beer Internet got to pick one of two storylines: We could either complain (“Jesus, man, every day is IPA Day, why not promote some lesser-known styles?”) or exult (“Every day is IPA Day at my house!”). For my part, I had to skip the whole damn thing while I battled with my landlord and my laziness (and, fine, my rum), but I caught up on Saturday. An outfit called Craft Brew Races sponsors a series of 5Ks and beer festivals around the country, and they let my wife and I hop the fence for free at the most recent one. So after shuffling my pre-corpse through five lovely kilometers of Worcester, Mass., I tried several dozen beers from a couple dozen breweries. It was a blast. There were free sausage samples and everything.


I’m generally lukewarm on beer fests, because things can get a bit sweaty and shove-y when you’ve got hundreds or even thousands of beerheads waddling around trying to get our $50 worth of 2-ounce samples, but this was a very pleasant affair. I assume the introduction of a long pre-fest jog changes the demographic a bit, or maybe it was just another example of Worcester’s famous amiability. Either way, it was maybe the least-gross beer fest I’ve attended. You should go to the Craft Brew Race in your town, particularly if you are a lapsed beer blogger they let in for free, but also otherwise.

Part of the reason I sometimes struggle at beer fests is my own lack of planning. I usually just kinda wander around throwing back this or that oversized thimble of beer, with my primary focus being to avoid collision with hairy stumble-drunks more concerned with jabbing their ham fingers into their beer-tracking apps than with walking in anything approaching a predictable human adult pattern. But like I said, this fest featured a healthy population of decent folk, so I was able to put some thought into a plan more nuanced that simple survival.


So after I “ran” my few miles, I hit the beer park with a purpose: to try lighter-style beers from new-to-me breweries before I messed around with the tongue-burning hop monsters I know and love. My first sample was a very good kölsch from Down the Road Brewery; I followed that up with Brewmaster Jack’s outstanding pilsner, Jan. And after that thoughtful and restrained bit of research, I mostly just stumbled around getting lit on big IPAs and whatnot. I had a bunch of good stuff, but none that toppled Wormtown’s Be Hoppy as my favorite readily available Massachusetts IPA.

Be Hoppy won gold at the 2014 Denver International Beer Competition, but I still consider it underrated by New England IPA-rankers. Around here we all love Trillium and Treehouse and Night Shift and a few others (and justifiably so), but Wormtown belongs in that top tier, too.

The 6.5-percent alcohol-by-volume Be Hoppy opens with a medium-large blast of fresh citrus— mostly grapefruit with some orange. There’s also a nice floral edge, and it turns sharper and more resinous toward the end of the glug. It’s smooth and balanced, with some honest-to-goodness barley character daring to peek out from underneath the hops.

If you live in Massachusetts (or if you’re a beer trader), track down some Be Hoppy. It comes in 16-ounce cans, so it’s ideal for shipping, and while it’s not as prominent as it should be, it’s not so rare as to command a huge price or a protracted trade negotiation. IPA is the best-selling craft-beer style for a reason, and Wormtown’s Be Hoppy is an excellent one.


This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse’s adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We’ll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.


Image by Jim Cooke.

Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.

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