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Beer: East vs west as Oregon Grown IPA from Galway Bay goes up against Galway Hooker's New England IPA Mango

Oregon Grown IPA from Galway Bay
Paul McConville

IT'S not quite Biggie and Tupac (ask an appropriately aged relative), but the IPA game in the States often comes to down to a rather less deadly version of rap's east-west rivalry. Well, maybe not 'rivalry', more 'variation in style'.

The east, or perhaps more pertinently, New England are purveyors of the murky, cloudy, sweet, juicy and dank IPAs which bear that region's name.

Way out west, things get a lot more piney and resinous, and a little bit crisper and bitter too. Of course, geographical location is important in a large, expansive country like the US of A, less so on these humble shores.

The brewers of California and Massachusetts have developed styles out of the hops that best grow in their particular regions, although this doesn't preclude them from importing them from other arts and parts too.

In Ireland, we don't have the luxury of choosing from a dazzling array of homegrown hop varieties. That means when we talk about an Irish made west coast IPA, it's more likely to have been brewed in Galway, Donegal or Sligo.

So, with any kind of travel still on the long finger for now, I had to head out west in beer form only this week.

First up was Oregon Grown, an IPA from Galway Bay, with more than a little nod to the Stateside hopmasters. The beer is brewed using Idaho7, Eldorado and Strata hops, and if you don't know what all that means, then all you need know is that it produces a wonderfully complex beer that's bursting with flavour.

Clocking in at 6.6 per cent, there are lovely sweet malt flavours, followed up by a rush of tropical and stone fruits and a hint of orange peel. It's sticky and juicy, but the sweetness is tempered slightly by an earthy, herbiness to it.

If you were to plot it on the Biggie-Tupac spectrum of IPAs, it's probably fair to say it borrows a bit from both – the nice murky, thick juiciness of the east and a sharp, piney feel of the west.

Galway Hooker's stab at a New England IPA was less appealing though. Simply called Mango, this 5.3 per center, promises one thing and then doesn't really deliver it. You expect to get whacked in the face with tropical fruit, but instead it just gently whispers in your ear and scarpers. It's a refreshing enough drop, but could do with living up to its name more.

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