7 May 2021
Beer: Juicy IPA
Style: Specialty IPA
Brewery: Mazama Brewing Company
Location: Corvallis, OR
Hops: Amarillo, Citra, Centennial, Idaho 7
For a long time I avoided beers that described themselves as “juicy” or “fruity.” This was largely because of some rather horrible experiences in my early 20s. These were the closing years of the 2000s and the early 2010s and flavored beer-like products were all the rage. Ranging from Mike’s Hard whatevers to the Smirnoff wine coolers nouveaux, these were sugary abominations, but they got you good and drunk. A few breweries had tried to cash in on this and started making fruit beers. But, these were not the fruity beers that many Oregonians (and others) enjoy today. Instead, they were mostly pale ales of various varieties with fruit flavoring in them. Whether or not that flavoring was natural, it always tasted artificial. The end result was rarely – if ever – appealing, at least to my palette.
Fast forward to 2021 and you’ll often find a beer in my hand which aspires to fruityness. Of course, these are not typically flavored with fruit (or artificial fruit substitute). Brewers have instead been using hops effectively to create beers that successfully mimic a fruity taste without the harshness of various additives. Many of these are extremely successful brews that have just a touch of summer from the hop notes.
Mazama Brewing Company’s (experimental) Juicy IPA is yet another success story for an Oregon brewery. The combination of hops gives it a summery citrus character that is unusual for its brightness. There is little trace of hoppy bitterness, and the malt of the underlying brew is completely masked. This would be a go-to beer for me in the summer (or here in the spring if we had more warm weather). It’s flavor makes you feel like you’re sitting in a sunny beer garden, even if you drank it while stuck in your rather cool basement on a cloudy day.
I am unsure of how long this beer will be around given that it is labeled as “experimental.” Hopefully Mazama will continue making it as the weather improves. Given that the beer won a gold medal for the specialty IPA category (NorCal Brew Competition) in 2018, it seems like this is a more permanent fixture of their lineup than the name would imply. It’s easy to understand why the judges at this competition gave it the highest honors in its category. The silver medal was given to Elysian’s Dayglow IPA, another excellent beer. That Mazama’s Juicy IPA won out over this is a statement to its taste and quality.
Although I very much liked the taste of this beer, there was a downside. I did not drink particularly heavy the night I drank this (four out of the six-pack) and had a hangover the next day. Though this may be due to an illness I’ve been dealing with for two weeks, meaning this was the first alcohol I had drank for more than fourteen days, it is still a bit worrying. Nevertheless, I will be reaching for this beer as long as I can get it. I paid $9.99 for the six-pack at my local Roth’s, but this was on a sale.