Rock Bottom Has an IPA for You
Rock Bottom Milwaukee boasts a new line of tropical-infused, “juicy” IPAs to complement the hazy IPAs bitter drink lovers enjoy.
Perhaps the biggest trend to hit the craft brewing industry in recent years is the popularity of beers broadly categorized as India Pale Ales, or IPAs.
Such brews trace their history back to late 18th century British brew houses and are known for having higher alcohol and hop content.
David Bass, long-time brewmaster at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Milwaukee, knows all about the IPA craze, noting the growing popularity of “hazy” IPAs, or those brews that have a hazy appearance because of the increased amount of hops.
“A hazy IPA has such a high level of hops content that it gets in the way of the beer’s clarity,” he said.
Because of the high hop content IPAs tend to be bitter, which is fueling the growth of “juicy” IPAs, which use more tropical hops to cut down on any bitterness.
Right now, Rock Bottom in Milwaukee has its Juicy Baby NEIPA 5 on tap. The brew features a tropical combination of mangoes and limes from Mosaic, Meridian and Wakatu hops. There’s also is an Apricot Hop Bomb IPA on tap, which includes apricot juice.
“For my juicy IPAs I make a different brew every time using hops I’ve never used before,” Bass said.
Bass said the beers at Rock Bottom in Milwaukee tend to be more middle-of-the-road in terms of bitterness and hop content, simply because of the clientele being served.
“Milwaukee isn’t home to the same ‘hop head’ population as there is in the Rockies or far west,” he said. Bass is mindful of the fact that Milwaukee grew up on light lager-style beers: “I’m making beer for more than the beer geeks.”
Bass said he has created a bruit, or very dry IPA in the past, but it wasn’t very popular.
“It’s all about the taste and making sure we’re meeting the expectations of our customers, many of whom are sophisticated about craft beer but have midwestern palates,” Bass noted.
That said, there are events taking place in the city that draw distinct crowds who like certain types of beer, and Rock Bottom is eager to cater to their tastes. In October, the rock band Widespread Panic will play three shows at the Riverside Theater, around the corner from Rock Bottom Milwaukee.
From past experience, Bass knows what to have on tap come show time.
“Widespread Panic has a devoted audience and they like hops, so we’ll be creating a stronger beer for them,” he said. “I’ll be brewing for hippies; they like their hops.”
Bitter or sweet, hazy or juicy, IPAs are likely here to stay, and Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Milwaukee is ready to satisfy any palate.