When it comes to coastal IPAs, you’re either dank or you’re fruity. And as the East and West Coast war over who better yields hops wages on, the Midwest is Switzerland.
In this instance, it’s a position of great strength. The no-coast mentality has lead to the creation of some of the best hybrid IPAs—see Surly’s Todd the Axeman and Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. The latest in that tradition is High Coup from Wisconsin’s Ale Asylum.
High Coup masquerades as a weed beer. Much in the style of Oskar Blues Pinner and Lagunitas Censored, the beer leans on the trappings and iconography of the pot-smoking world. If you’ve ever seen Ale Asylum brewmaster Dean Coffey, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call him a reformed hippie. His goatee is braided tighter than a doobie, and he exclusively wears hiking apparel. Therefore, it’s not surprising that his spring seasonal was released on April 20th and features a pipe-laden gas mask on the label. But this is more marketing than anything. Yes, there’s that deep resin that burnouts crave and the aftertaste is something akin to cottonmouth, but this beer is much larger than that roach of an idea.
Chill out, man. Sip this one and embrace how the middle ground tastes.”
Citra, Ekuanot and Southern Cross hops harmonize in a style-agnostic mix of grass and citrus—bitterness and refreshment. Each sip is an at-random combination of those two poles. Sometimes, the grapefruit barges to the front. The next sip, you might be swallowing a mouthful of pine. The only consistency is the steadying sweetness of the two-row malt, which isn’t completely obscured by either hop character. Splitting the 3,000-mile distance between San Diego and Vermont, High Coup captures the intermingling nexus of everything IPAs have to offer. There’s a cross joint metaphor that’s dying to be made here, but I won’t dignify it in this review.
If we must speak in the parlance of marijuana, the best way to describe High Coup is as a hybrid strain. As the New England IPA battles for prominence with the West Coast IPA, High Coup proves there’s a negotiation that’s worth hearing out. Once we divorce ourselves from the polemic traditions developed in the proliferation of the American IPA, that’s where the true greatness lies.
So, like, chill out, man. Sip this one and embrace how the middle ground tastes.