As it turns out, hops and tea leaves work wonders together. This makes sense when you think about it, given that the two have a lot in common in terms of chemistry and flavor profiles. In the plant spectrum, they’re not-too-distant relatives.
Since it’s therefore pretty rational that people are making tea out of hops, shouldn’t they also get away with the opposite? The answer is a resounding yes, as these beers demonstrate. The first, in particular, an IPA made with matcha, is intriguing enough it ought to inspire many more versions from breweries across the country.
Want to give the category a try? Here are five tea beers to get you started.
One of only a few matcha IPAs available, this Japanese brewery’s take on the style is full and herbaceous. Pouring it into a glass, you’d think it was St. Patrick’s Day. But the balanced flavors overshadow the somewhat off-putting hue. More breweries should mimic mixing the right hop bill with the perky and satisfying flavors of matcha. As a bonus, it comes wearing a fine looking label and touts at least some of the health benefits associated with green tea. Also, it’s great with tempura or fatty fare like dumplings.
This beer is a pan-Pacific collaboration between Baird Brewing Company of Japan, Stone Brewing out of California, and Ishii Brewing Company of Guam. Utilizing whole-leaf Japanese green tea, the IPA is bright and green in flavor, with tropical notes rounded out by little hints of earth and savory. Try it with cedar plank salmon and beware, this one comes in hot at around 10% alcohol by volume so don’t even think about shotgunning it.
Some beers are fun to just sit and sniff. Thanks to a resounding floral characteristic, the Elysian Jasmine IPA is very much one of those. The Seattle brewery has made the beer for some time and it seems to have a polarized following. Some batches, to be fair, can come off a little on the soapy side, but I say that in a not entirely negative way. It’s just a little different, you’ll see. And it’s great with Thai food.
This heavy beer from Maryland’s Flying Dog is proof that dark beer works with green tea, too. The stout is part of the brewery’s “Brewhouse Rarities” series and sports, like so many of their labels, some great Gonzo-style artwork from artist Ralph Steadman. This is a great evening sipper in front of the fireplace as autumn takes hold.
Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing has been brewing some good beer of late. One of its more interesting offerings is this ale finished with matcha. It’s nice and crisp, a little bit woodsy with a hit of citrus. And the IBU count is pretty low, for those who don’t subscribe fully to the IPA movement.
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