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In The Tasting Room: Due South's Hopicana Orange IPA

Friday's here, so it's time for beer.

Every Friday, so long as the creek don't rise, this beer enthusiast will take a look at a Florida beer that, hopefully, should be readily available in a local shop or on tap at your favorite bar.

August 1st was National IPA Day. A celebration of all things hoppy. A time to enjoy the appropriated American style. A day to raise a pint to the India Pale Ale.

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The style has been a mainstay of the American craft beer scene for decades, having been championed by the West Coast breweries with their single hop beers featuring North American Cascade, Chinook, or Centennial, among others. As new varietals emerge, and brewers experiment more with them, IPAs have grown in variation of flavor and hop profile.

South Florida brewers have taken on the challenge of the IPA, and put out some amazing bitter beers. In previous Tasting Room stories, we've looked at Brewzzi's Unmitigated Hoptimism Double IPA, a strong imperial IPA with pineapple and passionfruit aroma and a spicy finish, and Funky Buddha Brewery's Hop Gun, a high ABV brew that enjoys a blend of North American and New Zealand hops to give it a balanced bitterness. These are not your traditional West Coast style IPAs, but then again, when are Floridians traditional?

Consider this the #IPAday entry in Florida Beer Fridays, as we'll take a look at Due South's Hopicana Orange IPA, a very Floridian beer offering from the Boynton Beach brewers.

It clocks in with an ABV of 7.1%, and is measured at 56 IBUs (International Bittering Units), putting it right in the style range that is accepted for an IPA of between 40 and 60 IBUs. The beer is also truly considered an 'Orange Rye IPA' because of the use of rye malts in the mash. As is evident in the image below, the beer was made with fresh Florida oranges. If you've ever eaten a whole orange, you know that the citrus fruit can impart quite a bit of bitterness with the pith (or more scientifically the 'mesocarp'), that white tissue surrounding the segments (carpels) inside.

Blah blah, science and stuff... how does it taste? First off, I was tasting an around three week old batch of the beer, which, for bitter beers, means a lot of the hop oils have mellowed out a bit. There's a reason people get nerdy when espousing how many days old they've had Pliny the Younger. So with that out of the way, we'll get into it.

The beer has a mild aroma of an opened orange fruit... that time when you rip the peel off and, after the initial shock of orange scent, you can smell the pithy outside. Beyond that it's fairly muted, with some of the citrus hop complimenting. It has a gorgeous copper-yellow color, clear with a tight thin head. On imbibe, I get a hint of bitter orange peel and a bit of smoothness in the body, probably from the rye additions. It holds itself up and isn't watery. I get a bit of lingering peppery hop flavor that stays for a bit in the back of the mouth.

"When we first tapped it," Desiree, my bartender for the day tells me, "it had a much bigger orange presence." So, if you like it really hoppy, grab a pint right at tapping; and if you like it a little milder, wait a bit. Like fine wines, beers can, and do, change over time.

Another entry in The Tasting Room down, and we're thinking it's time to pick up some more beers. What's your favorite Florida beer that we haven't touched on yet? Tweet me, and we'll see what we can grab from a retailer, distributor, or friendly beer enthusiast. Until next time, drink good beer and #drinklocal.

Beer things in your Twitter feed, follow me @DougFairall



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