The Center Cannot Hold Last week, Old Town Brewing earned three…

The Center Cannot Hold 

Last week, Old Town Brewing earned three bronze medals at the Oregon Beer Awards, the annual celebration of our fair state’s best brews. Shanghai’d IPA came in third in the Classic UK Styles category. Add that to a GABF Gold Medal in 2015, and you’ve got a nicely outfitted “English-style” IPA. I figured I give this award winner another go around. It’s amber. It’s bitter. It’s sweet. 

Shanghai’d tastes less like London and more like Portland in 2010. The color is the first sign. These days, dark malt is rare, and sugary crystal is verboten. But here is an IPA with a reddish color which is actually a little sweet on the tongue. Old Town only lists 2-row malt and honey as ingredients, so maybe it’s all in my mind. The hops list is a trip down memory lane – Nugget, Liberty, Crystal, and the classic Cascade. The hops are used less for aroma than tongue coating bitterness. It’s bracing with hints at grapefruit and a long piney finish. Is this an IPA?

It’s mind boggling how far we’ve come in the ten years I’ve been drinking. This would not be out of place on any tap list when I was in school, but now, it tastes like an old relic. I’m amazed at how far our collective palates have shifted. We once revered beers with hundreds of IBUs. Now, we are adding vanilla and lactose to make milkshakes. And somehow, they both fall under the same three letter heading: IPA.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: we need a new word. India Pale Ale can’t be all beers all the time.