As each season passes, the reputation of COAST Brewing Co.'s flavorful specialties grows even stronger. With their seasonal ales, brewers and co-owners Jaime Tenny and David Merritt regularly aim for bold flavors on either side of the spectrum — sweet and malty or bitter and hoppy. Fortunately, even their most extreme renditions of classic beer styles maintain a sturdy balance.
COAST is obviously not interested in the idea of producing ho-hum stuff that matches the familiar standards of the craft brewing marketplace. From their hoppy flagship brand HopArt IPA to their limited-edition seasonal brews, the beers are complex with highly pronounced flavors and aromas. The accents and subtleties range from traditional to not-so-traditional ingredients and aging techniques.
Kegs of the local microbrewery's latest seasonal ale — the Boy King Double IPA — went out last week to Charleston Beer Exchange (it's available there in 64 oz. growlers), EVO Pizzeria, The Tin Roof, Mellow Mushroom, Charleston Beer Works, Brixx Pizza, Sesame, and several other dedicated retailers.
Compared to the HopArt IPA, Boy King initially comes across like a bigger, older sibling with more citrusy sizzle and hop bitterness. Quite potent at 9.7 percent alcohol by volume, it's deceptively drinkable.
Traditionally, British-style India Pale Ales were pale ales brewed to a higher than normal strength, and with considerably more hops in the kettle for bitterness. Over the last 20 years, American micros rendered even hoppier examples of this style, stretching the American IPA style to new extremes, with so-called Imperial IPAs, Double IPAs, Extra IPAs, and Triple IPAs. Some of the most adventurous brewers go over the top with bitterness, way past the threshold of enjoyment. Plenty of weird IPAs can be found with enough bitterness to knock you off your seat.
COAST's hazy-orange Boy King Double IPA arrived on the heels of another limited-release ale, the more standard Single Hop Cascade Pale Ale, a medium-bodied, fragrant, super-citrusy American pale ale with enormous Cascade flavor and aroma. The fuller-bodied Boy King takes it up a few notches with a ton of Citra hops along with Chinook, Nugget, Cascade, Centennial, and Columbus varieties. Citra is a new American variety of hop with a fruity character (Sierra Nevada used Citra in their recently released Torpedo Extra IPA). The hop recipe creates a delicious, complex blend of flavors and aromas, with hints of pineapple, tangerine, spruce, and pine.
A few sips into a pint of the Boy King, the delicate pale malt (barley and wheat) flavor starts to sneak in, especially in the clean, lingering finish. The initial bitterness mellows and the underlying fruit and grain flavors emerge.
Too many superlative IPA reinterpretations go too far with hop experimentation these days, resulting in a one-dimensional brew. COAST's Boy King stays on track and brings a delightful, quenching bitterness of distinction. And just in time for spring, too.
For more info, visit coastbrewing.com