Far From India: India Pale Ales in the 21st Century. Dynasty Maintenance Mike Milkshake IPA, Ashburn, Virginia
Date: March 27, 2019
The Story— Before we’re done, we’ll list over twenty styles of IPA, a few of which are more or less authentic to style. IPAs are really popular, but brewers try to brew something that’s distinctive if not quite unique. If they do brew a unique beer that’s even marginally palatable, it won’t be unique for more than a few weeks. Enter “milkshake” IPAs. They apparently date all the way back Omnipollo’s “smoothie” series, though the name came later. We first ran into a beer with that name in early 2018.
Jason Alström, co founder of Beer Advocate wrote “Milkshake beers are not a trend or acceptable with traditional or even modern styles” showing more understanding of beer than of market trends. Hats off, Jason. You nailed it.
Vaguely reminiscent of New England clotted malt brew but with even more lactose and gobs of fruit and other seemingly boundless ingredients, these “beers” are unabashedly brewed for people who don’t like beer. We get it– a brew pub that can’t serve cocktails and wine has to brew beer for people who like cocktails and wine or else that mortgage-saving group of 16 is going to go to a bar no matter how much most of them love beer.
But this is a beer blog. And this style is not beer. So we don’t have to be nice to it.
But we have to be nice to the brewer of this beer of the day. Favio Garcia is one of the truly gifted brewers in the state of Virginia. He put Richbrau on the map in the 80s, brewed some great beer, including ours, at Old Dominion in the early part of the century and was a critical component in creating Lost Rhino, one of NoVa’s best known breweries. He’s at a much smaller place now, but perhaps with more hands-on control. He still has his touch and he’s still a brewer who other NoVa brewers turn to for advice. The biggest challenge for a brewer on his current list is a helles –a style that is a rare find on this side of the Atlantic, even with the trend to session-able beers. It’s one of the the hardest beer to brew and probably Favio’s best.
We lavish this praise because it’s going to stop when we describe the milkshake. But to be clear, we’re highlighting Favio’s because it’s the best Milkshake IPA we’ve had. That’s a bit like talking about the softest phone book you’ve ever been hit on the head with by a Chicago cop, but it’s still better than alternatives.
The Beer— Creamy, chalky and sweet, and though it takes a while for the fruit to fully emerge, it surely does by the end. A huge range of flavors make it more interesting and more palatable than others we’ve tasted in the style.
Value — If you like this style, it’s very good. We won’t be getting growlers of it here — or from any other brewery.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.