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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - My Milkshake IPA brings all of the boys (of legal drinking age) to the brewery

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It seems that every time I look, there is a new fad taking hold in the craft beer scene. Lately, these fads have been centered around the ever-present and ever-popular IPA-style of beer. This latest beer craze is no different.

Enter the Milkshake IPA.

What is it, you ask? Well, let’s start off by discussing what it isn’t. It is not a milkshake in the traditional sense, in that it is not made with ice cream, milk or any traditional dairy product. The Milkshake in Milkshake IPA refers to the addition of lactose sugar to the beer.

Lactose, unlike sucrose and other sugars, is unfermentable. This means that the yeast fermenting the beer can't eat and break down the lactose, which means it ends up in the final beverage and adds body and sweetness to the beer. Traditionally an ingredient used in porters and stouts as a way to make them smoother and creamier, lactose eventually found its way into your hoppy beer and thats how we got where we are today.

So, if it isn’t a milkshake, is it an IPA?

We can answer yes to that question! As is the case with most of these newer beer fads, flavor profiles will vary from brewery to brewery, but most breweries are basing their Milkshake IPA recipes off their New England IPA recipes. These beers already feature low to no bitterness and an abundance of fruity, juicy aromas, so the lactose actually adds a bit of body and sweetness to bring a different dimension to those big hop flavors.

But wait! There’s more! You could just add some lactose to your New England IPA and call it a Milkshake IPA and nobody would get mad at you. But if you want to really nail the style down, you’ll have to consider adding some vanilla, usually in the form of whole vanilla beans and potentially even some fruit puree to the beer. Yes, that’s right - vanilla and fruit puree are typical in this new style of beer as well.

I have to say, as a beer drinker who came of age over a decade ago, this newest fad flies mostly over my head in terms of making any sort of sense.

(Editor’s note: Usually I’m the one shaking my fist and demanding new ideas get off my lawn. This is a lovely change of pace for me. As Abe Simpson once said: “I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it anymore, and what’s it is weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you too!” Welcome to being old, Bissell.)

However, after trying a popular example of the style, I totally get it.

(Editor’s note: Damn it.)

It might not taste like beer as I remember beer tasting, but it is a perfect example of the innovative times that we live in. It doesn’t taste like anything you have had before and that is the whole point!

Looking for a local Milkshake IPA? See if you can get your hands on Vanilla Dome by Portland’s Definitive Brewing Company in Portland. It has everything you will want in a Milkshake IPA, plus the Super Mario reference in the name gives it that extra little push over the cliff.


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