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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - Mea culpa with lactose, vanilla beans and fruit added …

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So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a new style of beer that is popping at craft breweries all over the country, the ‘Milkshake IPA.’ An offshoot of New England IPA, Milkshake IPAs usually feature an addition of Lactose, or milk sugar, which is unfermentable and provides body and sweetness to the final beer. In addition to the lactose, many brewers add some vanilla beans and pureed fruit to up the flavor quotient and bring a sweet, fruity flavor forward.

In writing about this beer style, I did something that I should never ever do: I assumed that I would enjoy this style of beer before I ever got a chance to try one.

In my effort to seem ‘cool’ and ‘with it,’ I wrote an article about a hot new beer style before ever taking a sip. I shouldn’t have done that, because after trying four different Milkshake IPAs, I can now say without reservation … that they are just not for me. Without naming any names, all four I tried landed firmly in the “thanks, but no thanks” column for me.

This is not to say that any one of these beers was poorly made or had any specific flaw. Really, this is more a judgement of my personal tastes than anything to do with the beers I tried. Sometimes, a flavor set just doesn’t jive with your palate and that is absolutely fine.

I often encounter people who try and try to like a certain beer style, and time after time they simply can’t get past something in the flavor. Maybe this person can’t stand the bitterness of hops or the smokiness of roasted malt or the banana notes from a hefeweizen; certain flavors are just non-starters for certain people. Not only is that perfectly OK, you can also learn a lot from identifying your particular set of no-go beer styles.

I tend to enjoy beers that are highly attenuated or dry, beers that finish clean with a touch of bitterness. This puts things like Kolsch, pilsner, altbier and even West Coast IPA high on my personal enjoyment list. Your list may be completely different, and that’s totally fine. Because it is your list and only your list. Know it, understand it and most importantly learn when to ignore it and when to obey it.

Whatever you do, don’t write about beers before you drink them. That is never a good idea. Lesson learned!

Oh, and if you still haven’t tried a Milkshake IPA, Orono Brewing Company and Mast Landing have a Blueberry Milkshake IPA called ‘Go Blue’ that just came out for Homecoming weekend at UMaine. Go try it if there is any left!


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