Big Sky IPA is our April brew of the month

IMG_8281Call me crazy, but I have been so eager to go camping that I set up my tent in my basement one afternoon. I even inflated my sleeping pad, put it in the tent and laid on it.

I cannot wait for the first time this year when my friends and I sit around a campfire and watch the hypnotic dance of the flames under the big, star-studded sky. When that happens, I think I will be doing 12-ounce curls of Big Sky IPA, brewed by the Big Sky Brewing Company of Missoula, Montana.

Though not the boldest IPA around, Big Sky IPA offers a nice bite and a bracing dose of citrus. It is also available in cans, which is ideal for camping.

When poured into a pint glass (which is unnecessary around a campfire), the color is orange-tinted amber. It smells of West Coast citrus intermingled with a malt balance. Though not overpowering, the aroma is still invigorating with scents of orange, lemon zest, pine and tropical fruit (maybe mango and pineapple). Pale malts and caramel provide a balance.

Flavor-wise, though, the balance tips toward the hops; the flavor is much more floral and earthy than the aroma and the malts are present only as a foundation. The first sip offers a nice bite, which more or less maintains its strength throughout the pint. The orange, lemon, pine and tropical fruit are still present, but relegated to a supporting role.

  • Serving temperature: 45-50ºF (which is a perfect temperature for camping)
  • Alcohol content: 6.2 percent ABV.
  • Food pairings: Kyle Sillars, the quality control director at Big Sky, said curried dishes are a classic pairing for IPAs. However, he also highly recommended a bison burger with blue cheese. Other suggestions included grilled waterfowl, dry-rubbed and grilled pork or a simple burger with pepper jack. For dessert, he said many like to pair IPA with carrot or coffee cake.
  • Where to buy: Big Sky IPA is available at most area beer retailers.
  • Price: $8.99 per six-pack.

Casey Wagner lives in Iowa City.

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