The year of 2019 has brought about a rebirth of an age old Norwegian yeast strain which is so called revolutionizing the IPA market. Brewers are using this Norwegian yeast strain called Kveik, as a compliment to the hops in an IPA. This strain boasts a citrusy quality and a different approach in fermentation as compared to the regular yeast. This citrusy quality added with hops creates an almost farmhouse like IPA but with a lot more citrusy bite and dryness on the back end. Some have come to adore the use of this strain whilst others seem to deter from it. Epitaphe is the very small side project of Jan-Philippe Barbeau, who is the head brewer at Lagabiere.
I first heard about Epitaphe when I saw their minimalist can designs flooding through social media. I could never find any in store since it was a small batch release, however I eventually had a taste at La Cuvee, and it sparked my interests. Who were these new comers to the scene that were making big waves around the market? It was only after when Jan-Philippe and I connected over some beers at Isle De Garde that I was informed he is the head brewer at Lagabiere and this was his passion project on the side. He spoke with such enthusiasm for his beer, I just had to get my hands on some to try for myself. And the moment the beers hit my glass were a marvel, because they were different, new and refreshing. It is always nice to have the beer market constantly evolving so not to get boring, keeps things experimental and fresh. For that reason these kinds of experiments can be fun, but when there is an over saturation of the same style, this leads to experiments turning into a fad or trend. Which comes to reason is inevitable, simply because if it works, everybody wants a piece of the pie.
IPA || ABV: 6.0% || IBU: –
I had a taste of this one at La Cuvee, and at that time it was sitting at about 4 weeks old. From my memory I recall it to be vibrant, citrusy and hoppy. It had an impact like an NEIPA but with a dry finish. It created this almost coating like mouthfeel. This can I drank was sitting at 8 weeks old and I felt like the tropical and citrusy notes had mellowed out a bit, and even the color was a bit different. It had more of a malted feel and a bit of funk which I didn’t expect. I feel like these kinds of IPAs maybe best when drank within the first four to six weeks. I’m no beer scientist but as I understand, yeast is alive and only killed during the pasteurization process, if the beer is pasteurized. If the beer contains live yeast, it will continue to affect and develop the beer.
IPA || ABV: 6.0% || IBU: –
This one I had super fresh, the aromas were dominant on the vibrant tropical notes, with a great overripe peach taste and some minor floral notes. The dry funk tends to dominate the finish. Together with all the elements combined and the stepped ladder the flavors walk on creates a overall feeling of delight. It creates a dynamic which seems like an NEIPA, but really its just an IPA with an interesting yeast strain. And unlike NEIPAs they are not over juice bombs, they are soft, delicate and fruity all the same.
I had heard from Jan-Philippe that there is a scotch ale which he brewers in collaboration with a friend, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of that! It would be interesting to see how the dark side compares to these tropical, dry, funky IPAs.
Words + Photography by Hopcitizen