In the Northwest, hops drive the craft brew scene--which is no surprise given the number of varieties that are available locally. In the recent past, monster IPAs with astronomical International Bitterness Unit levels ruled, but a new trend is emerging. Brews that spotlight just a variety or a few hops in a more restrained style work well when the temperature rises. Here are three hop-centric bombers that fit the bill.
Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, $4.99-$6.49
A trio of hops (citra, mosaic and nugget) comes together in this brew from Bend, Ore.'s Deschutes. The pour is dark amber and sports a decent, light tan head. The brew is fruit-driven on the nose, offering apple, mango and orange, along with peppery hops and caramel. You get sweet caramel flavors up front that segue into ripe citrus, with the hops lurking in the background and on the finish. This is a great summer IPA.
Laughing Dog Purebred Citra American Pale Ale, $4.49-$5.49
From the small town of Ponderay, just north of Sandpoint, this bomber spotlights the mildly bitter citra hop variety. It's a crystal clear, golden brew, with a thick, porous head that fades quickly. The floral aromas are a mix of bright orange, mango and grass with a whiff of blue cheese. Light but lovely in the mouth, smooth malt and apricot is backed by a decent hit of resiny hops.
Epic Hopulent IPA, Release No. 67, $6.49-$7.99
This Salt Lake City brewery dry-hopped its IPA with mosaic (one of the new, hot hop varieties), as well as using it in the boil. In the glass, this beer is a cloudy orange ale with a one-finger head that persists nicely. It's a bit reserved on the nose, but offers aromas of grain, Meyer lemon and pine-laced hops. The flavor profile is much bigger, with bold, resiny hops playing against sweet malt that's laced with layers of ripe, tropical fruit. A touch of citrus adds balance to the finish.