If an IPA and a Belgian ale got a little frisky, this would definitely be their love child. It's got the fruity aromas and seductive creaminess of a Belgian, but with the swift hoppy roundhouse kick of a classic West Coast IPA. Oh, it's wild, all right. And you're definitely going to want to find yourself some.
Beer Details: Little Sumpin' Wild from Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma CA (Belgian IPA, 8.8% ABV, 72.5 IBU)
Appearance: Crystal-clear and sunshine gold with a sturdy cap of crackling foam.
Aroma: Take a deep inhale on this one. It smells incredibly of apricots and sour citrus fruit with an overlay of perfume-y floral.
Taste: While this is called Little Sumpin' Wild, this isn't actually a wild ale in the fermented sense. Consider it more of a "wild at spirit" brew. It's actually fermented with a Westmalle yeast strain — the same strain used by the Westmalle trappist monks to make their famous tripel. It's primarily this yeast that gives Little Sumpin' Wild its fruity, spicy, and somewhat funky flavors and aromas.
Give it a sip and you get those fruity flavors right up front: dried apricots, sweet Meyer lemons, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Then a tart bitterness — sour candy and pithy grapefruit rind — comes in to sweep the palate clean. A "biscuits and honey" malty sweetness sneaks through, but I do feel like the bitterness gets a little overwhelming once you're a few gulps in. This is typical and even welcome in an IPA, but I would have loved to savor those fruit flavors a little longer.
I love the smooth and slick mouthfeel here. It's not quite as creamy as a full-on Belgian, but it has a little more body than your average IPA. Even with its fairly aggressive hoppiness, I still felt like it was an easy-sipping beer. Overall, I'd say this is an excellent cross-pollination between the two styles.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)