As you’ve likely noticed by the beer menu at your favorite pub or brewery, New England-style IPAs are all the rage on the East Coast. In fact, here in Maryland, I can only think of three breweries off the top of my head that don’t currently have a hazy IPA of some sort on their tap list.
And that’s great news for NEIPA fans. They’re fruity, they’re incredibly drinkable, and they’re typically much higher in alcohol than their unpretentious taste would suggest. Plus, there are some really spectacular ones being made by Maryland breweries right now.
One of the newest NEIPAs to hit the market, however, is a relative newcomer.
If you’ve been in the Maryland beer scene for a while, you may have come across Push American Brewing, the house beer served at Frisco Tap House. And, quite frankly, it wasn’t great.
But a year ago, they hired a new brewmaster, and Ryan has been working double-time to fix the recipes, get rid of bad ones, and start brewing new ones. He’s really done a great job, and the beers can finally start collecting the praise they deserve. In fact, to help sever ties with the past disasters of Push American, the brewery has been recently rebranded to Reckless Aleworks.
One of the first beers to come out under the Reckless name is Illustrious Buddha, a NEIPA. Having talked to Ryan about it, I knew it was something he’d been playing with for a while, so I was excited to hear it was being released.
(Full disclosure: I couldn’t make the official release, so the folks at Reckless Aleworks gave me a crowler of Illustrious Buddha to try later.)
Like most NEIPAs, it pours a very opaque, tan-ish orange with good carbonation. I seem to think it was 6.7% ABV, which is in the neighborhood for this style.
I chose to pour it into a snifter glass, and sticking my nose in there, I got a mild fruity aroma. Tasting it, I got some initial bitterness, which turned to a grapefruit flavor, which changed to slightly sweet & orangey situation with some nice maltiness in the finish. Surprisingly, there was a sight bitterness that tends to stick around after you swallow it, which isn’t typical of most NEIPAs.
Overall, I think it’s pretty good for a first run at a NEIPA. It’s made exclusively with Mosaic hops (earthy, floral and fruity flavors) which typically make for great IPAs but, to my taste, I think this one could maybe stand to use a little bit of Galaxy or Citra hops in a future version to really help bring out a little more fruitiness and tone down the bitterness a tad.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a solid beer and, if I’m sitting at Frisco’s, I’m bypassing a lot of other beers to order up one of these. It’s a good bridge for West Coast IPA fans who want to try a NEIPA – it still retains the bitter hoppiness with citrus flavors, but isn’t as “juicy” as many others.
Based on this one, and others I’ve had, it seems like Reckless Aleworks is doing anything but being reckless about brewing good beer. I can’t wait to see what’s up next.