When a crew of social beer drinkers all flew into Denver from Portland earlier this summer just to taste one specific beer at Black Shirt Brewing – a beer that no longer happened to be on tap – there was only thing that co-owner and brewer Chad Miller could do: tap an extra keg of the beer that he'd reserved for another occasion.
Black Shirt first served Blood Orange Double IRA in March, and someone who'd tried it had told the Portland crew that if there was only one beer he could drink again "before he died," it would be that one. High praise – and very satisfying to Miller.
“This beer took us a year in research,” he explains, “and five months to brew – so it's not a fast process.” No — in fact, that's more than four months longer than it takes to make the average ale. The reason for the wait has to do with a process that Miller calls “dual fermentation,” which takes extra time and space.
Black Shirt will tap some more of the Double IRA today in honor of IPA Day – and it's worth seeking out.
Brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops, Double IRA was conditioned on “heaps” of in-season blood oranges then double dry-hopped on Mosaic, a hop variety known for its powerful citrus and tropical fruit flavors and aromas. The blood oranges complement the Mosaic hops well, giving the beer a bright, refreshing feel that Miller calls “sublime.”
And that combination of citrus-forward hops varieties and actual citrus fruit has become popular recently in California and Colorado. Two of the most recent and well-known offerings include Grapefruit Sculpin, from San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing, and Citrusinensis, a blood-orange pale from Petaluma-based Lagunitas. But a number of Colorado breweries have been toying with these flavors as well.
“We have been working on this for a long time, so we weren't playing off Grapefruit Sculpin,” Miller says. “But there is definitely a citrus IPA thing going on right now. I'm a huge fan for both [Ballast Point and Lagunitas], and sometimes I want an IPA that isn't so dank and grassy and piney, but has that brightness that citrus brings.”
Black Shirt opens at 5 p.m. on Thursdays. The Tony Guacamole Food Truck will be on hand, and there will be music from Mac Comer Music.