Far From India: India Pale Ales in the 21st Century. Quattro Goomba’s Old School, Aldie, Va.
Date: March 29, 2019
The Story— This is the second Beer of the Day from Quattro Goomba’s in the not-very-central but scenic Aldie, Virginia. You can see the previous gem from brewer Chris Jacques here. As we near the end of our March madness of IPA styles, we circle back to the version that started the craze.
There were plenty of IPAs in America in the 19th century; Prohibition decreased them but a generous handful continued into the 30s and 40s. The most successful was Ballentine, which brewed some of the most flavorful beers you could buy in its heyday in Newark. Even after Falstaff picked up the brand and brewed it in Fort Wayne, it still had exceptional character. Ironically not long after the last bottles of it disappeared from shelves in the east, adventurous brewers in the west that showed Ballentine’s lingering influence. Anchor’s Liberty ale in 1975 made extensive and innovative use of Cascade hops. Bert Grant brewed the first craft beer labeled IPA in the early 80s in Oregon. Sierra Nevada’s Celebration and Lagunitas’s IPA smashed remaining doors down. By the mid 1990s the hop forward taste had spread to the east. Some consider Tuppers’ Hop Pocket Ale the first East Coast IPA, though the Tuppers never labeled it as such. Today, though we don’t think anyone’s done a definitive count, we estimate there are at least 20,000 American IPAs in production right now, with several times that brewed over the course of a year. Not all breweries match Quatro Gooba’s numbers– five different IPAs on tap when we were there a couple of months ago– but some like Pizza Boy in Enola, Pa. offer far more.
This version from Quatro Goomba’s is one of the best we’ve had lately. A beer such as this would have been shockingly fruity in the early days of IPAs, but today we’ve grown to accept entire fruit wagons rolling over out taste buds and these “old school” hops offer a spectrum of flavor beyond the fruit bin.
The Beer—Cascade and Centennial give as much leaf as fruit in today’s context. Herbal notes also grow and a big even full malt is a fine palate for the supersplash of hops and the lingering oils and tangy long bitter. There’s a bit of a struggle between the big hops and firm malt as it drinks, but every sip calls for another.
Value — Good. Quatro Goomba’s offers very good beer at entirely fair prices.
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.