Cheers - March/April 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 49 of 59 50 • March/April 2016 beer and wine garden, co-owner Luke Tabit makes sure palates are prepared. "Most consumers know what IPAs are, but our staff is very educated on our IPAs and able to steer our guests in the right direction," Tabit says. Ashland Hill encourages guests to taste IPAs before ordering if they are on the fence, he adds. Pints at Ashland Hill average $9, but on weekdays Social Hour features Flights & Fries: four 5-oz. tasters and fries priced at $12. Unconventional ales have taken off at The Hay Merchant in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, TX. The Hay Merchant offers bold and eccentric menu choices such as a half pig's head and peanut-butter-and-jelly wings to adventurous Texans. The beer lineup is ambitious, with 75 draft beers and fi ve cask engines. Pints of IPA at run from $4 to 6, increasing for Imperial IPA. The Hay Merchant's owner, Kevin Floyd, has seen IPA trends fl uctuate. "A few years ago, everyone was brewing rye IPAs, and the year after that, it was black IPAs," says Floyd. "During those trends, it was common for us to have 5 to 10 different beers brewed to those styles on tap at a time. Now it's rare that we see a rye IPA." The Hay Merchant customers have a hankering for those wild and Brett IPAs. "We really love sours, wilds and as such," Floyd continues, "our list is always outside the norm for these styles. Taking that into consideration, IPAs are our second most popular style." Strong commercial examples include Escondido, CA-based Stone Brewing's "Enjoy After" Brett IPA series, or Denver-based Crooked Stave's Hop Savant Brett IPA. FRESH IS BEST The fi rst rule of IPAs is freshness. Fragrant hops lose their potency over time, as oils degrade. Just a block from the Patapsco River in downtown Baltimore, Max's Taphouse prioritizes beer above all. This no-frills, classic bar provides a full lineup of sports spread across multiple TVs and old-school pub fare, plus 105 taps that offer an expansive spectrum of beer. Guest always have 15 to 20 IPAs to choose from at Max's. General manager Casey Hard keeps a few popular American IPAs on rotation at all times, including the local Heavy Seas Loose Cannon and RAR Nanticoke Nectar. But even with 100 taps, Hard doesn't allow kegs to be overlooked: "We date all hoppy beers to make sure we are serving the freshest beer possible," he says. Showcasing bright aromatics is likewise essential at The Pine Box, where pints of IPA range from $5 to $6 and increase for Imperial IPAs. "Freshness is key with any hoppy beers," Roberts says. "We check the dates on kegs when delivered from the distributor, and tap them that week," he says. "Any IPA we tap is always less than a month old. You can really taste the difference when pouring local IPAs that were only brewed a few days ago." Proper glassware can enhance the consumer experience. Most IPAs are served in a conical or nonic pint, though higher- alcohol Imperial IPAs require a snifter or tulip glass. At Ashland Hill, "Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin [IPA] is our go-to beer and our top overall selling beer," says Tabit. "People are addicted to it!" It helps that Ashland Hill is the only bar in Los Angeles that serves the popular IPA in branded Ballast Point glasses, which are special ordered from the San Diego-based brewery, Tabit adds. "Guests always get jealous when they see other people with this glass… it's beautiful." IPA is a style with signifi cant history. Perhaps the best part of IPA is its future: the subcategories that continue to evolve. By innovating techniques and making subtle variations to IPA, brewers are able to differentiate their product and offer consumers something new. They get to make more beer, and operators get to offer—and sell—more beer to guests. Erika Bolden is a freelance writer and Certifi ed Beer Server. She is a frequent contributor to L.A. Weekly, West Coaster SoCal and All About Beer magazine. "A few years ago, everyone was brewing rye IPAs, and the year after that, it was black IPAs." — Kevin Floyd, right, owner of The Hay Merchant in Houston, TX, has seen IPA trends fl uctuate.

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