If you like piña coladas, don’t get caught in the rain without a can of Destination Unknown Beer Company‘s Science of Selling Piña Coladas, a delightful New England-style IPA built to taste like the classic tropical drink, brewed with pineapple, coconut, vanilla beans, and lactose sugar.
But if you didn’t catch the bright, sweet, lightly creamy beer when Destination Unknown released the cans in mid-December, the only rain you’re getting caught in is the rain on your paper-umbrella-less parade; they sold out in under an hour.
However, Destination Unknown is transporting its drinkers to paradise through a new IPA that also drifts tropical like a tiki drink and will be available for the foreseeable future. “Dubco,” as the Bay Shore brewery is known, has partnered with Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar, a restaurant that recently opened in the village, to create Coastal IPA. Made with mangoes, coconut, vanilla, and lactose, as well as heaps of Mosaic and Citra hops, it is a thick, milky, sweet, and fruity beer, each silky sip as blissful as a beach breeze.
Coastal IPA and Science of Selling Piña Coladas are two of Destination Unknown’s interpretations of an emerging subcategory of IPA, and arguably the strongest evidence of the extreme elasticity of America’s favorite non-macro style: the milkshake IPA.
Milkshake IPAs Ain’t Your Mama’s Milkshakes
Simply put, milkshake IPAs bring all the beer lovers to the yard—and without the lure of seductive dancing. (Sorry, Kelis.) The style was pioneered by Omnipollo, the whimsically innovative Swedish brewer, and Pennsylvania’s Tired Hands, which produces its most focused and beloved versions.
It was Tired Hands that jocosely adopted the term in January of 2015 after a scathing review of its popular unfiltered pale ale, HopHands, by BeerAdvocate’s Jason Alström. “Not feeling it with this brew, extremely cloudy and a mess to say the least … Milkshake beers are not a trend or acceptable with traditional or even modern styles,” Alström wrote, denouncing the growing number of hazy, creamy New England-style IPAs and pale ales being made and drank across the country. (The phenomenon has continued, and now even Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams, two of the country’s largest craft brewers, are making their own turbid juice.)
Two months later, Omnipollo, which had already brewed several “smoothie IPAs,” and Tired Hands joined to create something they called Milkshake IPA. “I wanted to turn that negativity into positivity,” Jean Broillet IV, Tired Hands’ brewmaster and owner, told PUNCH last year. “We call it ‘Milkshake’ to no small degree because of that silly, very childish reaction [from Alström].”
Creamy, Sweet and Fruity
So what’s the milkshake IPA, which has spread worldwide, you ask? Conceived with a particular focus on texture and the intent to further explore the interactions between food flavors and hops, these are IPAs brewed with lactose, an unfermentable sugar long used by brewers in milk stouts, to supply notable sweetness and lend a fuller, richer body. Other ingredients vary, but most milkshake IPAs incorporate any combination of the following: fruits with high amounts of naturally occurring pectin, which causes a thickening when heated with sugar that is characteristic of jams and jellies; oats and wheat, to further boost body and mouthfeel; vanilla beans, cuz vanilla beans; and vogue hop varieties with variegated flavor profiles like Citra, Moteuka, and Mosaic, to engage and accentuate the other ingredients.
The result? A creamy, sweet, fruity beer that mimics a milkshake.
Destination Unknown is the most frequent brewer of milkshake IPA on Long Island, even having a rotating series of them, each with different combinations of fruit, called Science of Selling. “Our customers go absolutely nuts over them,” said Chris Candiano, a brewer and co-owner, last week. We also spoke about the collaboration with Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar, why he likes adding lactose to IPAs and other styles, and the brewery’s ongoing expansion. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Edible Long Island: How did Coastal IPA come together?
Well there’s the Bay Shore connection. The owner, Anthony Tartaglia, has another restaurant in Bay Shore called Verde and he pours us there from time to time. We have two milkshake IPAs, our Science of Selling Piña Coladas and Science of Selling Mango Milkshakes, and he thought something along those lines would fit in great at his new place and its island-inspired drink and food menus. Coastal IPA is basically the lovechild of those two beers. It’s getting really great feedback.
ELI: What do you like about adding lactose to IPAs?
I really love how lactose elevates an IPA, especially the New England-style IPA, an already amazing style. The soft, juicy profile of these beers was just looking for something to take them to the next level, and that’s where the lactose comes in. And then you throw some fruit in the mix. The creamy sweetness of lactose elevates the already smooth mouthfeel of the New England-style IPA, and the fruit pushes the tropical flavors from the hops through the roof. All the different parts play well together in a milkshake IPA.
ELI: Do you think the milkshake-IPA trend will continue?
I think so. It’s a fairly new and upcoming subset of New England-style IPA, and that’s still fairly new and definitely upcoming itself. Brewers have only just begun playing around with these IPAs. There are some people who are purists who see the New England style and milkshake IPAs as a ridiculous flash in the pan. But you can’t deny their popularity.
ELI: You’re also among a growing number of brewers adding lactose to sour beer.
We do experiment with lactose in our sours, like gose, pretty frequently. The creamy sweetness plays well with fruited sours in different ways then with IPAs. Most of our sours are made by kettle souring, with lactobacillus, which produces lactic acid in the beer. This is more of a one-note sour flavor that really needs some help to drive the beer into more interesting flavors. In come the lactose and the fruit. We’re getting a lot of character and complexity in the beers with this method that you simply can’t get without longer periods of time and different bacteria in more traditional sour beer. So between the IPAs and sours, we intend to keep having fun and experimenting with the lactose.
A major challenge you’ve faced since opening in 2015 has been producing enough beer to meet the demand, which has even caused your taproom to close on occasion. Tell me about your ongoing expansion to help remedy that.
Some months back we took over the two units next to us, which had been a Crossfit gym, totaling about 4,000 square feet. A few hours ago, literally, we got the final pieces of equipment for our new brewhouse into it. It’s a 10-barrel brewhouse and 40 barrels of fermentation space, in addition to the three-barrel system and 32 barrels of fermentation space in the original brewery, which we intend to keep operational and use for smaller batches as well as sour and spontaneously fermented beers from our coolship. So all of this combined will hopefully help out with our supply issues. If all goes according to plan, we hope to have the new equipment up and running by March or April.