You Should Hop(s) Over to Other Half’s New Taproom

These IPAs are worth the trip to Brooklyn.

The chalkboard menu at Other Half Brewing Company’s new taproom might include items like Cabbage and Cream of Broccoli, but don’t expect these or any vegetables to be dispensed from the l-shaped bar’s 20 constantly rotating taps. In this no-frills industrial space with communal seating (walls bare, don’t care!) adjacent to the beloved IPA-focused brewery’s original, considerably smaller drinking area (wall got a stuffed kudu head, it dead!), the sole plant showcased, and plentifully, is Humulus lupulus—specifically the perennial’s hops, the conelike flowers that give beer its distinctive bitterness and bestow it other lively notes ranging from papaya to pine to white wine.

Other Half, one of the deftest hops users of the moment, employs varieties both classic and trendy as well as innovative brewing techniques, vogue adjuncts and even hops in new forms to flavor its dizzying array of IPAs. This impressive range has continually ignited the passion and commitment of the growing fan base for new and rare IPAs, many of which are made in an adored New England style somewhat akin to orange juice. Outside breweries across the country, enthusiasts wait on Cronut-like lines, sometimes for hours, to secure limited releases in 16-ounce cans. Beer is not the only prize for their endurance. There are bragging rights for those who proudly boast of their conquest on Instagram, often arranging the haul to resemble a supermarket end cap. Others use the coveted ales as currency to trade for equally hyped out-of-market cans with fellow fans.

New taproom, new hours. Open today from 5-10. Get your eclipse on and then grab a beer. #afterparty

A post shared by Other Half Brewing (@otherhalfnyc) on

Other Half mercifully arouses beer lovers by rarely repeating its Saturday-morning releases, ensuring an obscenely wide-ranging portfolio of IPAs that slakes even the throatbeardiest of thirsts. The brewery has sold as many as six different ales in cans in a single week, and with the recent installation of a canning line (prior to this, it used a mobile-canning company), there will be more surprise “drops” on weekdays, said Sam Richardson, the brewmaster and a founder.

But for those seeking an ale-ternative to #linelife, it is significantly easier to enjoy these fresh beers on draft at the brewery’s new taproom, which feels like an empty mansion compared to the original, even when crowded.

On a recent Friday afternoon, twenty- and thirtysomethings packed the large room and the playlist included Future’s “Mask Off.” One table was occupied by a couple of industry celebrities: Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso of Evil Twin Brewing and Mike Clark of Bellwoods Brewery, both of whom had joined Other Half for a collaborative brew that morning and were now studiously sipping Citra Daydream, a light, citrusy, creamy ale made with oats and lactose sugars. At the bar, a young woman with heavily inked arms ordered a double dry hopped iteration of an imperial IPA called Green Down to the Socks. “This smells like primo shit,” she said, smiling, playfully (and rightfully) comparing its pungent hop aromas to a green plant of a different kind.

Richardson on three IPAs you can find in the brewery’s new taproom now:

Cream of Broccoli 

Imperial Oat Cream IPA

7.9%

“Broccoli is a standard Northeast-style IPA that we hop with Simcoe, Mosaic, Hallertau Blanc and Cascade. We have a series of cream IPAs, well actually imperial cream IPAs, where we increase the oat content in the recipe and add just a small amount of lactose sugars. The lactose isn’t meant to give it a milkshake texture and mouthfeel, just a subtle level of creaminess and a little bit of sweetness. Here the hop combination gives a bright citrus character that plays really well with the oats and sugar. This one is soft, juicy, creamy, really easy to drink.”

All Enigma Everything

Imperial IPA

10.0% 

“Enigma is an Australian hop that’s been around for a few years, but it’s not super readily available yet. It’s kinda similar to Galaxy in some ways. I get a lot of melon character from it, and some dankness. Early on when we made the beer, it was more dank overall. But that kinda volatilized off and now there’s more of the hop’s melon, tropical-fruit character. We just released a double dry hopped version of this beer on Saturday that I find is even less dank than the regular version, which I’m not sure why. Usually when you add more hops, it compounds some of the characteristics. But yeah, it’s a very interesting hop so we made a beer to showcase it.”

DDH True Green

Double Dry Hopped Imperial IPA

7.9%

“A lot of our IPAs are us testing different combinations of four hop varieties, to see what works with what. This blend has hops from all over the world: Citra from the U.S.; Mandarina Bavaria, a new-school German hop; and two New Zealand hops, Kohatu and Motueka. Mandarina has a nice orange character, Citra gives a leechy, tropical-fruit character, Motueka has a lemon-lime thing going on and Kohatu is like a catchall for tropical fruit, but with a mellow, softer vibe. The idea with this beer is to mix the tropical fruit and citrus together, and then we hit it with the same four hops on the second round of dry hopping to boost those flavors.”

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Niko Krommydas has written for Tasting Table, BeerAdvocate, Munchies, and First We Feast. He is editor of Craft Beer New York, an app for the iPhone, and a columnist for Yankee Brew News. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.