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As Tropical Storm Erika bobs and weaves in our general direction, questions are pondered by the greatest minds of our generation: "Do I have ample water? Emergency supplies? Enough beer to hold me through?" The answer to all of those questions should be yes, and Due South Brewing Company in Boynton Beach wants to make sure you have a variety of cold ones on hand for the chance that you have a boring day or two without power. That's why they've put together the "Hurricane Variety Pack," which contains two Category 3 IPAs, two Category 5 IPAs, and today's featured beer, the Category 4.
The Category 4 IPA sits in the middle of its brethren, both in style and numerically. Whereas the Category 3 is a "standard" IPA and the Category 5 is an Imperial IPA, the Category 4 is a 'red' IPA, a style that falls under that broad terminology of "expanding sub-styles." As Ashley Routson, the Beer Wench, puts it in an article on CraftBeer.com, this style is at its heart an American red ale but "brewed at a higher strength and hopped like an IPA. Typically, redder in color than an IPA, with deep ruby hues."
Commercial brewers will start off with standard red ale malts (even some interesting specialty grains; Boulevard Brewing puts Chocolate Malt in their Red IPA), and use a generous and sometimes copious amount of Pacific Northwest hops to give it that bitter punch.
Due South's version clocks in with 85 IBUs and 7.7 percent ABV. Cracking open the can, the beer pours a clear burnt reddish-orange color with a frothy khaki head. It's a gorgeous looking beverage, with a deep coloring that you almost want to fall into. Aromas of nutmeg, pithy but dry citrus, and the playfulness of caramel-like malts show their stuff. A mild woody aspect arrives if you let it simmer under your nose. Taking a sip, the flavor is bitter up front, with a spicy rye character to it. Pepper. A back-of-the-tongue-coating resinous hop quality comes through towards the end to round out this India Pale Ale.
Cans of Category 4 are available in packs of their own
As an Erika Bonus, so to speak, the brewery will host a "Stock the Fridge" event through Sunday, featuring Growler and Crowler fills of Southern Saison, Midnight Marauder Black IPA, and Pale Ale for $5 a 32-ounce container and $10 for 64 ounces, with a limit of two per style while you're there.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.