In the craft beer universe, the IPA category is now so dominant that it’s easy for a beer to get lost in the shuffle. With trendy boomlets of haze, brut, and even milkshake, what’s a brewer to do to grab the attention of the consumer staring at 100 options on a shelf? North Coast’s new national release Steller IPA seems to fall into this camp: It’s mostly traditional, quite pleasant, and new to many markets. But what makes it stand out from the crowd?
The bottle’s appealingly old-school label depicts a tranquil teal and turquoise sea around a pair of Steller sea lions. It’s a nice reminder that the IPA within comes from the brisk and beautiful Mendocino coast, where many a beer are likely consumed on a patio with seafood. The beer itself pours with a medium, clear amber color and moderate foam collar, the carbonation bubbles rising at a medium pace.
If it weren’t for the resin and spice in the aromatics here, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a pilsner. The sweet bread and biscuit malt is a dominant (but pleasant) factor, with some floral, orange, and grapefruit accents. It’s a refreshing yet intriguing combination that makes you want to head to a patio for a pint immediately.
It’s food-friendly, easy to session, and would be an ideal companion for fried or grilled seafood.”
Steller’s 6.5% ABV is well hidden in this recipe—this is a sessionable IPA. The “hoppy pilsner” feeling continues on the palate, with a balanced mix of sweet bready malts and crisp finish. There’s plenty of hop character as well, with lemon, orange and floral flavors mixing it up with some light spice, pine, and resin. There are no gimmicks here, but rather a subtle and balanced IPA that leans just a touch toward sweet.
North Coast’s brewers have made a style befitting their Northern California home: It’s food-friendly, easy to session, and would be an ideal companion for fried or grilled seafood. The fact that the brewery donates a portion of this beer’s sales to marine mammal research and rescue is icing on the cake—grabbing a sixer is an easy win for any fan of straight-ahead IPAs or bolder pilsners.