Is Reuben’s Brews the Master of Triple IPA?
I don’t know the answer, I’m just posing the question. Such things are not for me to decide. Many of Washington’s breweries, and a lot of breweries across the nation, have created triple IPAs. Some of them very successfully. I don’t intend to suggest otherwise. But damn, Reuben’s Brews has an uncommon obsession with this style.
One thing is certain, Reuben’s Brews is pretty damn serious about triple IPA. Right now, they have three of them for you to try: Blimey That’s Bitter and Triple Crush are available in cans for pickup at the brewery’s to-go store (order online), and Gobsmacked is still on draft at the taproom. Yep, three triple IPAs at once.
Back in 2014 the brewmaster/co-founder at Reuben’s Brews, Adam Robbings, came up with the initial idea of Washington Hop Mop, challenging the state’s brewers to show off their hoppy prowess by brewing triple IPAs. Admittedly, it also involved proving the point that a great triple IPA need not have the word Pliny in its name. (No disrespect intended; after all, Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger was our muse.)
We are currently in the throes of this year’s pandemic-impacted version of Washington Hop Mob. Like everything else, it’s different this year. See our stories about it. There’s more to the Hop Mob story, but it’s a simple fact that Adam is the one who imagined a whole mob of breweries creating triple IPAs at the same time. After the first year, he enlisted the help of Nat Pellman (Brouwer’s Cafe) and myself to help prevent Hop Mob from becoming a thing that was only about his brewery and beers, because that was never the point.
What’s the big deal with this kind of big beer?
Triple IPA is a challenging style. Creating a beer that is at least 10 percent ABV, displays a lot of hop character, and also offers some balance, is no easy task. Nobody wants a cloying, estery IPA. Making a big, sweet, sticky beer at 10-plus percent ABV is not nearly as challenging as making a beer that, uh, isn’t.
Adam explained his approach to brewing Reuben’s Triple Crush IPA in an article he wrote for Beer and Brewing magazine last November. Why is it such a fantastic example of the style? It might not be what you expect, as he explains in the article. You’ll probably be impressed with how much thought went into devising the recipe.
Geeking out on that article set me to wondering. Are there are any other brewers who’ve put this level of dedication and thought into triple IPA? No doubt, a lot of great breweries have submitted a lot of outstanding beers for Hop Mob over the years. When we’ve held tasting panels, beers from Reuben’s Brews have not always ended up at the top of the heap. Still, that one brewery and that one guy seem to harbor an exceptional dedication to the style.
Are they the masters of the style? I don’t know, but Adam Robbings and his crew at Reuben’s Brews deserve some applause for their dedication to, and prowess for successfully creating, this particularly challenging style of beer.
As mentioned earlier, Reuben’s Brews currently has three triple IPAs for you to try. THREE triple IPAs! Who does that? I do not know if that means they deserve the title Master of Triple IPA, but it is pretty damned remarkable.