Melvin Brewing has landed in Bellingham. They aren’t brewing here yet and won’t until this fall, when their brewing system shows up. That being said, they are in our community, thankfully, and their world class beers are served up just down the street from many of your houses. Their IPAs continue to be heralded as some of the best and Draft Magazine agrees. They just came out with their Top 50 IPAs and Melvin’s IPA came in at #8.
Interestingly enough, “Melvingham” won’t be focusing on beers like Melvin IPA when they are up and brewing. Instead they’ll be focusing on Swedish beers. Owner Jeremy Tofte is always switching things up and trying new things. So keep your eyes peeled for news. Until then, you can get Melvin’s IPA and many others at their taphouse on Meridian, just a few blocks down the street from Menace Brewing.
Here’s Draft Mag’s Top 10 with their descriptions
10. Minute Man
Three Notch’d Brewing Co. (Charlottesville, Virginia)
Of the cloudy IPAs with names meant to evoke oranges and orange juice, none was more clear about its similarity in flavor (and appearance) to OJ. Citrus drips all over the aroma, blanketing subtler notes of chopped white onion, dank weed, tangerine, Kentucky bluegrass and Triscuits. On the tongue, the onions become sweeter and caramelized, and the malt more bready, like baguette, while a bold, bright grass and tangerine finish makes each swig like that of a glass of full-pulp Minute Maid.
9. Melvin IPA
Melvin Brewing (Jackson, Wyoming)
We’ve come a long way since the year 2000, when Melvin Brewing was but a tiny 20-gallon homebrewing setup inside the Thai Me Up restaurant in Jackson. Today, Melvin operates a taproom in Alpine, Wyoming, as well as a brewpub in Bellingham, Washington, and ships cans to six different states. The brewery’s also won a half-dozen GABF medals since 2012, including gold for this beer in 2016. We can see why it won: The aroma offers every color of the hop rainbow, with squeezed tangerine, super-dank weed, Creamsicles and fresh pine needles all appearing on different visits. That complexity carries into the flavor, where an orange thread runs through the middle of guava, mango and grass. It finishes a little on the heavy side, with agro bitterness waiting until the very end of the sip to kick in and balance the big fruits, but the hop flavor is absolutely killer.
Belching Beaver Brewery/Half Door Brewing Co. (both from San Diego, California)
Man, do we enjoy what some well-selected Southern Hemisphere hops can bring to a beer. In this collaborative—and clear!—IPA, Nelson and Southern Cross deliver an aroma like the inside of a flower shop cooler: damp rose petals, wet stems and leaves. Hints of bay, dried onion and oyster crackers can be found below the foliage. The nuanced flavor shifts with each sip, vacillating between snappy green onion, rose hips and lemon marmalade. A supportive, crackery malt base provides just enough sweetness to balance out the hops, while clean bitterness lingers long after the swallow. It’s a thirst-inducing beer, like you can taste the salt on the saltine. A true West Coast IPA for a haze-weary world.
7. Wombat vs. Wallaby
Like we said above: We really enjoy what Southern Hemisphere hops can bring to a beer. Wombat vs. Wallaby combines New Zealand-grown Nelson Sauvin and Waimea with Australian Galaxy, throws in a little American-grown Citra and Mosaic, and voila: greatness. Pinecones, guava and fresh, dank weed give the aroma a little punch, while hints of honey and a soft mandarin orange sweetness round off the rougher edges. The chewy body gives up flavors of tangerine marmalade on saltines with pine needles sprinkled atop. More than anything, though, the beer just tastes fresh—and since it’s a small draft-only release at Breakside’s brewpub in Portland’s Slabtown neighborhood, that’s the way it’s going to stay.
6. Double Dry-Hopped Congress Street
Trillium Brewing Co. (Boston, Massachusetts)
To our palates, this is the best beer Trillium makes (and they make a lot of excellent beer) and one of the very best IPAs on the planet. The double-dose of dry-hopping slams the nostrils with well-knit bubblegum, pineapple, strawberry and peach, but as it settles, the overwhelming impression is of cantaloupe rind and dry cannabis. Fresh-cut, funky chive scents provide additional intrigue, and neutral biscuity malts allow the dynamic hops to shine; the aroma feels new each time you return to it. On the tongue, metric tons of melon rind and tangelo citrus pith surge, with funky garlic flashing before the close. A dab of peppery heat (likely from the hops) and full-pulp orange juice tang (definitely from the hops) linger after the swallow.
5. Ice Cream Man
Back East Brewing (Bloomfield, Connecticut)
The sleeper hit of the tasting, Ice Cream Man is an NEIPA (Back East is good at those) brewed and dry-hopped with 100% Citra. It was first brewed taproom-only as a fundraiser for the Jason William Hunt foundation, which supports youth through outdoor education, but earned its way into cans after drinkers went nuts for it. Nowadays, Back East zooms through a couple hundred cases of the beer within an hour each time it’s released. We don’t blame the locals for buying them out one bit: We’d chase an ice cream truck for miles just for a chance to sniff this beer’s bouquet of pureed peach and mango with just enough dank, resinous weed at the edges to temper the fruit sugars. There’s even a noticeable baked wheat bread quality to the base, with attendant soft vanilla. Softer fruit characters appear in the sip; the peach is milder, the mango more like mango rind, and there’s an additional hint of tangerine. Wheat brings cohesion to the blend, and a wave of dank weed and earthy onion peel crests just after the swallow. Also, fun fact: The artwork on the can was actually drawn by the 4th-grade daughter of Back East’s graphic designer. They chose her rendition over several others he drew. This tickles us to no end.
Tree House Brewing Co.
Julius’ position in the top five of our tasting should surprise precisely nobody. It’s the highest-rated IPA on both Ratebeer and Beeradvocate, and number 2 on Untappd, behind only JJJULIUSSS, a version of Julius that pushes the 1.6-ounce-per-gallon hopping rate (that’s more than three pounds of hops per barrel, which is … a lot) even higher. Why is the beer so popular? “I get a lot of feedback in my email and on Twitter, and people enjoy Julius for many, many reasons,” Tree House co-owner Nate Lanier told us last year. “I think the prevailing reason is that it’s packed with flavor and very pleasant to drink. To me, I like it because it’s incredibly hop-saturated while maintaining softness on the palate. I like the term ‘fluffy’. You can enjoy pungent citrusy hop flavors without astringency, lingering bitterness, or alliaceous notes that can easily pervade a heavy-handed hoppy beer. It’s very easy to drink, and for me, it improves in the glass and with subsequent glasses—a character I try very intently to refine in all of my beers.” We can’t argue with any of that, but for our judges it was the way the beer beams its spectrum of distinct hop flavors—tangy nectarine flesh, sweet orange marmalade, pine resin and earthy hop spice—seamlessly across the palate that kicked it into the top 1% of all the IPAs we tried.
3. Virtual Planetoid
Fieldwork Brewing (Sacramento, California)
The hop character on this Citra- and Mandarina Bavaria-hopped NEIPA is big enough to have its own weather system. We’re not kidding; the aroma of onion, garlic, lemon zest and wheatgrass (which is a much better combination than it sounds like) is absurdly pungent. The flavor, meanwhile, is like Sputnik: spherical, but quite pointy in parts. Chopped, sweet white onion and chives comprise the corners; sweet Lemonhead candies and uncooked Pillsbury biscuit dough provide the roundness. Most impressive, however, is how the beer handles its alcohol content—though right on the edge of being too high in ABV to even be included in this tasting, it drinks like a session IPA. It’s both flavorful and drinkable enough to make us cry ourselves to sleep on our huge pillows.
2. Fashionably Late
Offshoot Beer Co. (Placentia, California)
“We promised never to make an IPA,” Patrick Rue, founder of famed Belgian and barrel-aged beer producer The Bruery, told Beeradvocate back in 2010. But he didn’t say anything about starting up a side project to make them. Offshoot, which opened in April, is that side project, and Fashionably Late is the first canned IPA to come out of it. Talk about auspicious beginnings: The beer’s Walla Walla onion, cantaloupe, fresh green grass and pastry dough aroma alone was enough to bring tears to our eyes. But then there’s the flavor, which sticks sweet pineapple and mandarin orange inside raw cookie dough, dusts the concoction with lemon zest, then rolls it across a grass field like a croquet ball. After the perfectly proportioned bitterness slides slowly off the palate at the swallow, you’re only left with only one question: Why couldn’t these guys have been making IPAs sooner?
1. Stay G-O-L-D
Burial Beer Co./Interboro Spirits & Ales (Asheville, North Carolina / Brooklyn, New York)
How fitting that our top finisher—the very best of the 387 IPAs sent our way—has the word “gold” right in its name. How fitting, also, that it’s a collaboration not just between brewers, but between brewers and musicians—the rap group Run the Jewels helped brew the beer and named it after a track on their newest album. What does Run the Jewels have to do with beer? Plenty. Before founding Interboro in late 2016, Jesse Ferguson managed the influential underground hip-hop label Definitive Jux, which he started with Jaime Meline, AKA El-P of Run the Jewels. (You can read more about Ferguson’s journey from hip-hop to hops right here.) This isn’t the first time Run the Jewels has collaborated on a beer, either; they cooked up a dry-hopped Belgian wit with Goose Island in 2013.
But the music/beer connection isn’t why Stay G-O-L-D earned our top spot. Here’s what is: The flavor is juicy as squeezed mandarin oranges, mango and peach, with soft baking bread and a layer of vanilla giving the impression of an Orange Julius. Deeper sips reveal marmalade-glazed pastry crust, pine needles and even a little pineapple; thanks to hopping with Citra and Mosaic, and a double dry-hop dose of Mosaic lupulin powder, there’s a ton going on here. The beer’s obviously bitter, but the actual bite of the hops is so clean and smooth you hardly notice. And that’s the thing: Of all the beers we tried, Stay G-O-L-D kept everything—the hop flavor, the bitterness, the malt support, the body, the booze—balanced and in its proper place. And if this tasting revealed anything to us, it’s that such perfect equilibrium is rare. You don’t strike gold often, or always in the places you’d expect, but as El-P would say: All that’s gold is not gold that glitters.
Head to Draft Mag for the full list, here.