Key Brewing: One for the Thumb milkshake IPA

I try my first “Milkshake”


If you’re still wondering where the hell the New England IPA craze came from, get ready to prep yourself for the newest, trendy beer – Milkshake IPAs.

Similar to a NEIPA, Milkshakes are cloudy, fruity beers, but are like a NEIPA +1. They’re frequently brewed with fruits (high in pectin) later in the fermentation process, are made with milk lactose (like a milk stout), oatmeal, vanilla, or a combination of a few of these. We’ve even read of some brewers adding flour to make the beer heavier-bodied and more opaque.

The end results often have an aesthetic appearance that resembles orange juice which, to me, isn’t particularly appealing for a beer. The taste, however, matches the orange juice comparison more closely than you might think.

Thus was my experience with One For The Thumb from Baltimore’s Key Brewing. It was my first taste of a milkshake beer and, since Key’s beers frequently rank high on my list (I love their porter), I figured it would be a good contender to get me acquainted with this style.

The glass appeared in front of me as an orangey-yellow, cloudy beer that could have been mistaken for a mimosa. The alcohol content was on par with many other IPAs at 6.5% ABV.

It definitely tastes fruity, and the mango and guava flavors are front and center. It’s slightly sweet and, unlike typical IPAs, it’s really not bitter from the hops. It’s actually quite pleasant to drink.

And therein lies my indecision on Milkshake IPAs. On one hand, they’re fruity and delicious but, on the other, I think I prefer my beer to be less fruity. I don’t mind fruit in my IPA (like Flying Dog’s Bloodline IPA made with blood oranges), but some Milkshakes I’ve seen recently resembled the pink, berry smoothies my daughter enjoys. And those, to me, are fun for a taste, but not what I want a lot of when I’m up for few glasses of beer.

However, I WOULD recommend this one from Key to anyone. Seriously, anyone.

The most telling reason for me came from a recent conversation with my friend, Cindy, who proclaimed that she hated IPAs, “because of the bitterness.” However, at a recent beer festival, she graciously volunteered to let me see if I could change her mind.

She normally likes things like medium-to-sweet wines and cocktails, so I started her with a NE IPA, which she really liked. After several other tasters, I asked her to try One For The Thumb. “I never knew beer could taste like that!” she exclaimed.

Much like Cindy, if you get a chance to try a Milkshake IPA, particularly One For The Thumb from Key, definitely give it a try and let us know what you think of Milkshake IPAs.


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