While cracking open a new beer this fine Sunday night, the song, “Under Pressure,” from Queen and David Bowie came on my Spotify stream randomly. “This song is possibly one of the best collaborations of all time,” I said, pouring the beer in my glass, singing along…”why can’t we give love, give love,” in my best Freddy Mercury voice (which is horrible).
The beer, called New California IPA, is ironically one of the best collaboration beers I’ve tried. San Diego’s Karl Strauss and Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company got together to brew the beer, which was recently canned and released state-wide.
When it comes to beer collaborations, the beer mostly tends to resemble the brewery where it was brewed more than the visiting brewery, but this one is remarkably the opposite. I’m not trying to say Karl doesn’t have a delicious IPA, but New California IPA tastes like a straight-up Russian River hoppy boi, and the only semblance of Karl is the can, as Russian River still bottles everything.
When it comes to making an IPA, choosing the right hop varietals can make or break a beer, as does when to add them in the brewing process: bittering, flavor hops, aroma hops, and dry hops. You don’t often hear about a new hop used for bittering that is a game-changer, but New California comes off as an introduction to Pahto, a new ultra-high alpha-acid hop that provides a smooth bitterness from start to finish and is on full display in the ale.
Strata hops have been one of my new favorites as of late, which offer up something just a tad different from the Citra/Mosaic hop blends that everyone is doing. They also blended in Ekuanot, Amarillo, and Idaho 7, which brings almost a wine-like complexity to the beer like a GSM blend. There’s earthiness, fruity, floral and nectary-juicy hoppy bits, almost like they were milked from a psychedelic hoppy cow, complete with lupulin udders.
Will I still be singing this beer’s praises like Queen & Bowie’s Under Pressure thirty years from now? Probably not, but whenever I hear the song again, I’ll be drooling for a fresh can of this beer.
New California IPA will be available on draft and in 16oz can 4-packs beginning on August 1st and can be enjoyed at Karl Strauss’ Tasting Room, and Brewpubs, which include Costa Mesa and Anaheim.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening on June 29th in Anaheim!