Punch Your Ticket (and Collect Your Glass) for Eclectic IPA Month!

For many years now we’ve teamed up with the folks at 21st Amendment during November for BRU-SFO, bringing out six Belgian-style beers from each brewery in an annual masterpiece of brewhouse coordination and creative abandon.  We loved BRU-SFO, and while we also love the styles of beer inspired by that teeny little country these days struggling to keep its head above the increasingly insistent lapping of the North Sea, we’re putting it on a Sabena flight to posterity.

But our November partnership with 21A is by no means over—and, by the way, no, in case you’re wondering, it wasn’t last year’s Fennel Face that constituted BRU-SFO’s last straw.  In fact, this year we’re doubling down on the creativity, sort of inspired by the publication of my book, Brewing Eclectic IPA back in May.  This November we’ll be co-celebrating Eclectic IPA month with six beers from each brewery—two of them collaborations—three of them to be released at the beginning of the month, followed by one more each week leading up to just before Thanksgiving.  We’ll also be hosting events at our newly reopened Dogpatch brewery and at the SF 21A location to give attendees an exclusive sneak preview of the last beers, along with food, talk and merriment.

Shaun O’Sullivan of 21A and I have shared a fair amount of all those things over the years, and in some ways took similar vines—er, paths—to brewing distinctiveness and hilarity: think watermelon and pumpkin.  Now we’re poised to raid the spice and produce markets to come up with a dozen new beers—new IPAs—for the upcoming month.  It’s going to be fun.

The whole concept of Eclectic IPA revolves around the interplay between hops and other ingredients in beer, kicked up a notch or two by the extreme treatments of brewing embodied in IPA.  The past thirty years or so have seen a parade of new hop varieties presenting bold, fruity, herbal and distinctive flavors and aroma previously unknown in the history of brewing.  Not surprisingly, these bold varieties, beginning with Cascade, then followed by Centennial and Chinook, onward to Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe and all sorts of crazy stuff with Maori-sounding names from New Zealand, have along the way been embraced by craft brewers in this country and elsewhere to make some pretty radical beers.  But the hops are only half the story.  Other ingredients, things like fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, coffee and chocolate can be manipulated to tie into the essential aromas and flavors of hops carried by the essential oils—or terpenes—inherent in them and individually identified by both analysis and just plain sensory appreciation.  Turns out terpenes are in things other than weed; in fact, they are part of pretty much everything that grows in the ground, and even in such things as the excretions from some insects.  That’s the base concept inherent in Eclectic IPA: flavor combinations that just work, whether because they play so well together or because they present a contrapuntal combination that is beguiling and delicious.

So onward to the beers—and by the way, no once more, there will be neither fennel nor the excretions from insects in any of the IPAs we’ll be offering in Novemeber:

We haven’t settled on the order of things, but these are what we plan to produce at Magnolia:

Red Spruce—IPA made with currants and spruce tips

Shiso Fine—IPA made with shiso leaves, added three times

South Island Hiss—IPA made with gooseberries and New Zealand Nelson Sauvin

Theabelgo—Belgian Black Chocolate IPA (brewed with Recchiuti Chocolate)

TukTuk Tea—Thai/Vietnamese Iced Tea-inspired IPA, made with Cha Dem Yen tea and lactose

Our collaboration with 21A will be Henna Tattoo Double IPA, brewed with Buddha’s Hand fruit purée and pink peppercorns

21A’s beers:

Hazy Imperial Passion—Imperial hazy IPA with passion fruit

Imperial West Coast Pine—Imperial IPA brewed with pine and lemon verbena

Brut Fruit—Mango-strawberry brut IPA

Pancake Syrup—Maple IPA brewed with toasted fenugreek seeds

SuperNatural IPA—brewed with Peet’s Ethiopian Super Natural and Etolie coffees

And Urban Forage, which we’ll all do together. This collaboration should be fun.  On October 29, a bunch of the brewers from both breweries will rove through Chinatown in San Francisco and select things on the spot to brew with.

As in the past, we’ll be issuing punch cards, in order that motivated maniacs can try all the beers in the course of the month and be rewarded with a commemorative glass.  Glasses will also be offered for sale at any time, and will be given away at the two brewery events.  I will be presiding at the Dogpatch event on November 19th and I’ll join Shaun at 21A on the 18th, along with various other brewers, in order to talk about the beers and enjoy the paired bites created by our respective chefs.  The bites will also be available at both the Haight Street and Dogpatch locations and at 21A throughout the month and as each beer is released, riffing on the great pairings that Chef Roque Mendoza dreamed up this past February for Strong Beer Month at the Magnolia pub, and enlisting the inspirational expertise of Laurance Gordon, our new chef at Magnolia Dogpatch.  Ticketing information will be forthcoming for the events, at which attendees will also have the first crack at the last releases, to be unveiled for the general public on that last Monday before Thanksgiving.  Our Dogpatch event will also be a chance for anyone who hasn’t yet made it to the newly reopened Magnolia location to come and give it a look.  Stay tuned.