India pale ale, or IPA, has become so synonymous with craft beer over the past half-decade, just about anyone with an interest in craft beer has an opinion on the style. Many times IPAs are a love-or-hate proposition, as bitterness is not something some palates care to handle. Others just can’t get enough. It’s a polarizing topic.
Real Ale Brewing in Blanco has never really gone too hard into the big, bitter IPA territory. Nuance, skill and balance has been something that fans of its Firemans #4, Hans’ Pils or Rio Blanco have appreciated for years. Some breweries are in it to punish your tongue with hops, but Real Ale has always stayed mostly outside of that realm.
Several years ago it launched its Lost Gold IPA. Even though that beer is hop-forward, it has a fair amount of malt balance. Hop haters still wouldn’t go for it, but it’s not a full-on hop assault and so is a bit more approachable than many other IPAs.
Earlier last year, as part of its rebrand, Real Ale relaunched its Full Moon Pale Rye Ale — a beer that has been one of its staples for many years — into a Rye IPA. As IPAs go, it’s still quite approachable and the bite from the rye provides a dynamic element that is absent from contemporaries.
Its recent launch of Axis — a bright West Coast-style IPA — is intriguing.
“While IPAs are not a huge part of our portfolio, they account for 20 percent of craft beer sales,” said Schmitty Schmitterson, production manager and head brewer. “We’re really wanting something that would stand out and outdo some of the out-of-state IPAs especially and maybe even raise the bar for some in-state hoppy beers.”
It is every bit as bright and citrusy as it’s made out to be. The deft use of Simcoe, Eureka and Mosaic hops delivers apricot and nectarine flavors in abundance and creates one of the most refreshing, bright IPAs you’ll find on the market.
Axis is currently draft-only and won’t be packaged for now.
“We’ve been fortunate that it’s been selling like crazy, so keeping it fresh has not been difficult. Right now it’s a matter of keeping up,” said Schmitterson. “That’s another goal we keep in mind. A beer like that is remarkable the difference between a couple of weeks old versus sitting in the warehouse for a couple of months.”
Real Ale continues to buck expectations. It’s hard for a new IPA to break the collective hop-head consciousness, but Axis has a good chance of doing so.
10 GABF wins for Texas: Texas breweries hauled in 10 medals at the annual Great American Beer Festival. That’s down from 15 medals in 2015, and Texas posted four gold medals compared to 2015’s showing of nine golds. North Texas brewers won four of the state’s medal count, with Revolver Brewing (Granbury) taking gold for its Anodyne Wheat Wine in the highly contested “Other Strong Beer” category. Grapevine Craft Brewery won a silver, while Nine Band Brewing (Allen) and Community Beer Co. (Dallas) both won bronze.
Southside proud: Chimera Brewing Co. and SiNaCa Studios are co-hosting the Pride of Southside Homebrew Invitational from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 29. Tickets are $10-$40, and attendees can sample many entries and vote on Best of Show among the homebrewing entrants. Proceeds benefit SiNaCa, a registered nonprofit glassblowing art studio. chimerabrew.com/prideofsouthside.
North Texas Beer Week is coming: Entering its fourth year, North Texas Beer Week runs Nov. 11-20. Hundreds of events will dominate the restaurant and bar landscape over the 10-day period. Check ntxbeerweek.com for listings.
Candy and beer: If you’re looking for creative ways to burn through some Halloween candy, warm up your palate at Brewed on Magnolia Avenue with its “Fort Worth Fright Flight.” It features beers from Fort Worth breweries Collective, Wild Acre, Martin House and Panther Island paired with classic candies. Collective’s Funky Thunder with Sour Patch Kids sounds like a winner. The flights are available Tuesday through Oct. 30. brewedfw.com.