It has been awhile since the last time we were totally swept off our feet by no less than four beer selections during a tasting. By the same brewery. Yesterday our craft beering curiosity took us to WeldWerks Brewing Co. in Greely, CO, about half an hour drive from where we live.
Chris has been talking about this up-and-coming new-er brewery for months and since we had not tasted any of their beers we decided to check it out before we sent off 2016. Chris had a pretty good idea of what to expect since he talks to a lot of people and reads a few brewing publications. I had none.
The story goes that as soon as WeldWerks Brewing opened in early 2015 it started raking in all kinds of acclaim from critics and industry professionals alike, but most importantly from regular local craft beer lovers. Their most recent claim to fame? New England-style IPAs, of which one scored a perfect 100 in a blind tasting panel of brewing professionals organized by Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine.
Of course, my interest was peaked after Chris mentioned this on the way to WeldWerks Brewing, but I had no clear expectation for Juicy Bits and DDH Juicy Bits. This turned out to be good. As we started tasting away the entire beer selection I was absolutely smitten by the aromas, fruity flavors, mouthfeel and discreet bitterness of the Juicy Bits IPA. Totally a beer I want to have again. Soon and a lot of it.
Just so you know, IPAs are not among my top five favorite craft beer styles. They do however appeal to Chris – his favorite styles are American pale ales, followed by American IPAs.
It is a well known fact that IPAs are mostly preferred by men. American hops IPAs are the most popular style by a great margin in the USA. Chris told me that several local brewers have shared with him that even if they specialize in other styles, they always make an IPA or two to address the huge demand out there and cater to the male customer base.
At the same time, I know a lot of women who tend to dismiss craft beer primarily because they dislike the hoppy bitterness of American IPAs and the way it can overwhelm the palette. Those unfamiliar with craft beer tend to think that this trait extends to all IPAs and all craft beer. Even if they enjoy the citrusy or tropical aromas, the bitterness negates that. Others, who do appreciate certain craft beer styles, shy away from American IPAs for similar reasons.
Yet, there is such diversity in IPAs and it is growing. WeldWerks Brewing Juicy Bits is a New England-style IPA and can change that negative IPA perception among women. I am confident. Or not create it at all, if it is the first craft IPA a lady tries (realistically, few would be so lucky). In fact, it can showcase a whole other side of American hops to anyone.
To me Juicy Bits tasted like I’d stopped by a road-side fresh tropical juice stand in Maui. Except for even better, because it was a beer. It captured me with its tropical fruit aromas, but really stunned me with the intense flavors of papaya, melon and orange. They were so real that I had a hard time believing that they came from hops, not actual fruit. Instead of a hoppy bite a soothing creaminess coated my tongue. Towards the end a refined and subtle bitterness assured me that it was indeed an IPA and invited me to take another sip.
We are optimistic that in the near future Juicy Bits will be available closer to home. Even though the one hour round trip to the brewery to buy a crawler is worth it.
Just a note – New England IPA is not yet an officially recognized style as far as professional brewing entities are concerned. But it doesn’t matter, people all over the country are loving these hazy looking brews and they seem to be growing in popularity. The style has unique characteristics concerning the way it is brewed, which together represent the key to its distinct profile. I wonder if others come close to Juicy Bits. More sampling is in our future!
Above I mentioned that an IPA by WeldWerks Brewing was awarded a perfect 100 score. Here it is below, called DDH Juicy Bits. DDH stands for Double Dry Hopped (dry hopping even during fermentation is one factor that makes the beer stand out from other IPAs). Chris liked DDH Juicy Bits a lot, I preferred the original Juicy Bits.
If WeldWerks Brewing made nothing else but their New-England style IPAs we would say they are one of our favorite new breweries. As it is, three more beers totally impressed us, one of which will be great for summer.
The Cherry Gose was sooo good. In color it was similar to a rose wine. No brininess on the nose because the fresh cherry aroma greeted us most enthusiastically. The Gose style was originally made with slightly saline water back in the old days in Germany, therefore it is traditionally salty. WeldWerks do add sea salt, even coriander to create a more complex profile.
The beer was dry and sour in a manner similar to plain yogurt, but dressed up by the cherry tartness. I am one of the world’s biggest plain yogurt fans and I liked how the sour byproduct of the lactobacillus action was blended with the cherry. The salinity was not as easy to detect for me, Chris picked up on it though. Neither one of us expected to be tasting a fruity Gose yesterday, it was a definitely pleasant surprise and we hope they keep brewing it.
The last beer we absolutely loved was their Coffee Coconut Stout. Will tell you more about it soon when we make this really decadent desert with it. Cannot wait.