Lumberyard Imperial IPA.
Vintage Brewing has just brewed its 600th batch since opening five years ago. That was incentive for brewmaster Scott Manning to riff off of the brewpub’s best seller, Woodshed IPA, which is brewed with oak chips. Manning took woodshed to another level with this imperial IPA called Lumberyard.
Style: The Imperial India Pale Ale, or IIPA, is also called a double IPA. The style is an American creation and most often deep golden to reddish amber in color, medium- to full-bodied, and known for a strong hop profile that features resiny, piney and/or citrus tones (depending upon the type of hops in the recipe) and can finish at 7.5%-10% ABV.
Background: Woodshed IPA gets its distinctive woodiness from French and American oak chips added to the kettle during brewing. Lumberyard — true to its name — features chips from different woods. Manning's cousin (and one of his partners in Vintage), Trent Kraemer, went to a local home improvement store and checked out the grilling isle for smoker chips. He came back to the Vintage brewhouse with armfuls of apple, cherry and pecan chips, plus cedar planks (commonly used to bake fish).
Manning and Kraemer then took about seven pounds of wood into the brewpub’s kitchen and toasted it in the oven to bring out more of the aromatic qualities before it was dumped into the brew kettle along with the malts and hops. Manning says he was most nervous about the cedar because it can be so strong in aroma and flavor.
Five different varieties of hops were added in brewing and in two dry-hop additions. All those ingredients pushed his brewing system to its limits — “It’s a really big beer, says Manning, who wanted to double the ingredients "but couldn’t fit it into the mash tun.”
Lumberyard finishes at 10.1% ABV. At the west-side Vintage location the beer sells for $5.75 glass and $28/growler (refill). It’s expected to be on tap through May.
The pub will pour samples of Lumberyard IIPA, Woodshed IPA, and Woodshed Whiskey (a spirit made in collaboration with Yahara Bay Distillers) for those interested in making a side-by-side comparison.
Aroma: Floral hoppiness with a hint of wood.
Appearance: Hazy bronze-copper color, with a soft, tan head.
Texture: Medium-bodied, with roundness.
Taste: The hoppiness is in a mixture of floral and piney-bitterness. The wood is there too, mostly in the background and finish.
Finish/Aftertaste: Mild, yet firm, spicy hoppy flavor. A piney-woody ending.
Glassware: Vintage serves Lumberyard in a tulip glass. That’s a nice way to display it. However, when I take home a growler, I like to use a heavy clear glass mug with a thick handle.
Pairs well with: Strong IPAs and imperial IPAs go well with sharp cheddar and blue cheeses. From the Vintage menu try the Black and Blue burger topped with bacon, caramelized onion, roasted garlic aioli and blue cheese.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers.
The Verdict: Hop lovers should love this IIPA; there's so much going on, between the plentiful hops and lots of wood. As the beer warms, those wood tannins rise from the flavor. While Woodshed is dominated by oak, Lumberyard’s woody flavor is more of a blend, and it's hard to detect the specific woods. It eventually becomes a piney, bitter, earthy-woody rush with added spice and warmth from the high alcohol. I really liked the flavor and complexity of this beer; however, it eventually overwhelmed my palate with flavor. Don’t expect to follow this one up with a lighter beer because you won’t taste anything but the hops for a while.