Ale Asylum has a reputation for hoppy brews. Its flagship Hopalicious is one of the best-selling bitter beers in Madison. But Ale Asylum hasn't released a new India Pale Ale in its bottled lineup for over five years, not since it released Bedlam. Its newest beer, Velveteen Habit, is an IPA that offers an interesting twist on the style, with pronounced orange, mango and passion fruit flavors.
What is it? Velveteen Habit IPA from Ale Asylum Brewing.
Style: The India Pale Ale (IPA) emphasizes the bitterness of hops, which can provide herbal, citrus and piney character to both aroma and flavor. IPAs are medium-bodied and often golden- to copper-colored. They range from 5.5% to 7.5% ABV. American IPAs, like Velveteen Habit, are made with U.S.-grown hops and offer more bitter character than English versions of the style.
Background: Ale Asylum is expanding it bottled line of brews in 2015. Velveteen Habit has been in the planning for several months. "This is different from any other beers we've made," says head brewer Chris Riphenburg, who took the lead on developing it. Ale Asylum is known for making beers with single hop varieties. Velveteen Habit is made with a blend of Cascade and Citra hops. Cascade hops are highly regarded in many well-known IPAs and are a source of citrus and grapefruit bitterness. Citra hops are similar, but most brewers favor them for their tones of orange and mango. Ale Asylum's flagship brew, Hopalicious, features just Cascade, while its popular Belgian IPA Bedlam is made with just Citra. "I think a lot of our creativity is starting to be seen in mixing hops and blending them for aroma and flavor," Riphenburg says.
Velveteen Habit gets its name from the children's book The Velveteen Rabbit, a story that Ale Asylum's Otto Dilba regards as a reminder to savor the things in life that are most enjoyable. "And beer is right up there on most people's lists," he says.
Velveteen Habit finishes at 7.5% ABV. It sells for $10-$11/six pack. In the Ale Asylum taproom it sells for $5/glass, and $15/growler (refill).
- Aroma: Very assertive orange and mango aroma.
- Appearance: An orange-copper color with a slight haziness. Medium, bubbly head with a light tan color.
- Texture: Medium-bodied, crisp and bubbly.
- Taste: Wonderful tropical bitterness. The mango bitterness really makes this beer stand out from other Ale Asylum beers.
- Finish/Aftertaste: The tropical orange and mango flavors continue with a firm dryness.
Glassware: Ordinarily assertive IPAs are fine beers in the standard bar pint. However, this is a big beer for slow sipping, the better to call attention to its tropical qualities. Look for a goblet with an inward flare to the lip to the nose (don't confuse this with a tulip glass -- they look similar, only the lip flares outward).
Pairs well with: IPAs are nice beers for spicy foods from pizza to chili. Velveteen Habit is great with salsa, chips and nachos. Try it with mango salsa as a complement to similar flavors in the beer.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Consensus: Velveteen Habit does not have enough ratings to be evaluated by BeerAdvocate or RateBeer.
The Verdict: Even though Ale Asylum describes this beer as a blend of Citra and Cascade hops, it's the Citra that make a statement. Actually, they steal the show, and I'm glad about that. The tropical aroma and taste of mango combine with underlying malt, leaving a bitter-sweet-sour combination that's a little like passion fruit. Appreciate this one for the different layers of bitterness. You'll want to enjoy this beer fresh.