Be Skeptical Of This Barrel Aged Peach IPA
Epic and Ska came together to brew a unique, hoppy, fruity beer for Collaboration Fest that's aimed at getting complex flavors without an overly complex ingredient list. The beer started to take shape about two years ago, when Epic's John Turk approached Dave Thibodeau at Ska about a possible collaboration based on a mutual respect and the magic that happens when combining the breweries names . The beer will be called SKEPTIC Ale.
When asked what inspired him to brew the beer, Dave Thibodeau of Ska said, "Epic and Ska are kindred spirits in that we’re critical thinkers who really enjoy each other’s beers. We tend to view the world through a scientific filter, and as such, we’re often skeptical of beers that strive to be unique through the use of 16 or more ingredients—it’s kind of our own little, yet slightly expanded, Rienheitsgebot, I guess. If you color with every crayon in the box, you get brown. That said, unique is good, so the question becomes, 'how do you brew something delicious and unique without using every crayon in the box?' Epic is really good with both fruit and barrels, and we definitely have a hop-forward focus at Ska so we thought it best to build on each other’s strengths. Peaches are delicious, and Epic knows a few tricks with that particular fruit. There’s a nice tie-in to Peach Street Distillers as 2 of us at Ska are Peach Street Co-founders, so there’s our access to peach brandy barrels. Now you have something you can believe in, Peach IPA aged in Peach Brandy barrels."
For the beer nerds out there concerned about the clash between the bright, complex flavors expected from a hoppy IPA and the effects barrels have on oxidizing hops and slowly destroying the flavor, worry no more. To deal with this problem, the two brewers decided to brew two batches -- one maltier, less hoppy one that will age in the brandy barrels, and then a second, hoppy batch that will get brewed much closer to the release of the beer. They'll then blend the two just before packaging in an attempt to smooth out the sharper edges and capture the character of the peach brandy barrels as well as the peaches. The final product? Dave commented that the team is hoping for, "a nice, complex beer where all of the grand features of the barrels, the brandy, and the hops work in symphony with the white wine 'fruitiness' of the freshly added Nelson Sauvin hops." Cheers to that!