IPA is a THE craft classic. It is the iconic beer style of the craft beer revolution in California. Vinnie Cilurzo’s Blind Pig IPA was first brewed in Temecula, California in 1994 and set a new standard regarding hoppiness. This IPA was 92 bittering units and had very little malt character. Hop-forward beers brewed with innovative new hop varieties would define the decades to come.
The time I was living in Southern California (2007-2013) I was mostly influenced by Stone Brewing Company, Greenflash Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Without a doubt the beer I enjoyed most regularly was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. To me it is the quintessential American Pale Ale, crisp and very sessionable. But when I wanted to enjoy a beer for the sake of pure enjoyment it was always an IPA. Well, that is after I acquired the taste. I remember being quite shocked the first time I took a gulp and my tastebuds were expecting pilsener.
I have always been a big fan of Stone IPA and Greenflash West Coast IPA. My neighbor in Pacific Beach, San Diego worked at Greenflash and always had his special beer fridge stocked with mislabeled beers. This way I got to try them all in abundance. I remember enjoying the slightly reddish Hop Head and for sure I will never forget Palate Wrecker. Without a doubt The Wrecker lived up to its reputation, a truly heavy American Strong Ale.
My favorite beer style however is IPA and my favorite IPA at that time was Greenflash’ West Coast IPA. Another IPA I often used to order when I found it on tap was Racer 5 from Bear Republic Brewing Co. That IPA always hit the spot as a companion to a good burger or other pub food.
When I came back to Europe I was infected with the West Coast IPA craze. Soon however I realized my friends in my home town Amsterdam still had their palates intact and were not so excited about extreme bitterness. This was a bit of a disappointment in the beginning, because I had my mind set to recreating the extreme bitter IPA’s I had gotten accustomed to in San Diego. Then we started experimenting a bit. Looking for ways to bring together the old world palate and new world hoppiness.
West coast IPA’s keep the malt in background so that the hops can shine. We tried this a couple times using typical west coast yeast strains with high attenuation, in other words yeasts that produce dry beers with little malt-character or sweetness. My friends did not like it. Then we started to dig a bit deeper and look into more traditional British yeasts. In particular yeast-strains from Burton upon Trent. This yeast allows more residual sweetness, giving the beer a more full and round feeling in the mouth. It also attenuates a bit of the sharp bitterness from the hops.
In the end we combined the best of two worlds. We did a number of test brews with British yeast and typical west coast hops. This approach gave the beer a more typical European maltiness combined with fruity, citrussy and floral hop aromas. When we found the right balance between malt-flavors and hop aromas and enough bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt we dubbed it Lost Identity IPA. The name was related to my mental state at the time. Coming back from the States I felt quite lost but I also realized that getting lost can be an enriching experience. After all “Getting lost is the best way to find yourself”. I hope you enjoy our attempt to reconcile west coast boldness and European refinement.
Written by Tycho aka “Psycho”, developer of recipes at ABC