Back in mid-September, I had two local IPAs that made me think to myself the random thought: why bother drinking non-local IPAs? I didn’t really mean much by it at the time, except that there’s a few breweries in our area doing good things with hops, and I should drink that stuff more, rather than getting beers with the same hops from far away places. The local movement is important, to an extent, because it benefits those we interact with daily, our friends, our neighbors, and so on; any aid to the local economy begets more benefit to the local economy (some other time I’ll talk about things I don’t like about the local movement – this is a positive piece). More important than any economic growth, is the impact on community from supporting local brands, businesses, groups, and people.
My thoughts deepened on the topic – IPAs are kind of the “flagship” for many breweries, being extremely popular with new craft drinkers, and often very in with those of us interested in trying new hop flavors, new varieties, and experiments on styles that helped explode the craft movement (if I say movement one more time in this post, I’ll break my own fingers). Why try the IPA from some large, nationally distributed brewery, when there’s IPAs made up and down the streets of Chicago and its suburbs, in all kinds of sub-styles, and some of them very, very good. I’m already like this about lagers in many ways, because of Metropolitan Brewing and others, so why not IPAs?
I’ll start this series of posts off with the first of the two IPAs that inspired it – Ale Syndicate’s Municipal IPA (the other is Begyle’s Hophazardly). My first sit down with Municipal came at Fulton Market Kitchen. Eschewing some of the more traditional IPA hops like Cascade and Centennial, this beer is all Crystal hops, making it more floral and sp ice-driven, like sweet cinnamon and cardamom, white pepper and a bittersweet elderflower-ish thing. A very well-balanced malty backbone of Vienna, Munich, and Caramel 60 malts supports the hops, and wheat and carapils present a great head that opens up the aroma. ORange-amber and clear. The medium body and balance makes this exceptionally easy to drink, as does the moderate 50 IBUs (in these days when 70 is typical anyway). 6.2% ABV makes this the big sister to Ale Syndicate’s Sunday Session.