In the summertime, when the Midwestern heat becomes nearly unbearable, my beer drinking skews lighter and fruiter. Goodbye barrel-aged stouts and double IPAs, hello goses and crisp pilsners. And hello Clown Shoes Berry Blender, a 7% ABV IPA that answers the question: what is a summer IPA?
The brewery calls Berry Blender a smoothie IPA, which I can get on board with given the copious amount of raspberry, strawberry, and lactose. In the glass, those berry purees muddy things up and lead to a murky red hue. I don’t mind, since it means the fruit flavor comes from real fruit, instead of dyes and artificial flavoring.
Much like the juxtaposition of the grim reaper adorning a playfully pink can, the combination of flavors in Berry Blender makes for an interesting drinking experience. The berry purees play well with the milky sweetness, and the El Dorado and Mosaic hops add additional layers of tropical, fruity flavor. The end result is a hazy IPA that might as well be served with a straw.
The hop and berry pairing gets a little perfumy towards the bottom of the 16-ounce can, especially as it warms. Combined with the sweetness of the lactose, it's best when served fresh and cold. Berry Blender is brighter than most fruited IPAs and more natural tasting, with a berry flavor that shines without burying the IPA base.
Berry Blender is bright enough to quench my thirst on a hot day and complex enough to keep my interest after I move inside, and that’s the real recipe for a successful summer beer.