A subset of the New England IPA, the milkshake IPA is taking the brewing world by storm. Smooth, rich and creamy, milkshake IPAs combine the bitterness of a hoppy beer with the sugar and thickness of a milkshake.
A beer with a difficult start in life
The milkshake IPA (India Pale Ale) is not a beer that had an easy entry into the famously picky world of craft brewing. First brewed by the Pennsylvania brewery Tired Hands in 2015, the drink took a hammering at the pen of Jason Alström, founder of the beer review site BeerAdvocate, who dismissed the drink as “a mess to say the least”, and one that was “not… acceptable with traditional or even modern styles”. But that didn’t perturb Tired Hands, who went on to make a whole line of the drinks, and it hasn’t put off other breweries either, with Moon Dog, BrewCult and Alefarm Brewing all cooking up their own milkshake IPAs.
Lactose is the key
Milkshake IPAs are a variant of the New England IPA. New England IPAs (otherwise known as NEIPAs) are known for their deep fruity flavour and bright colour, which is achieved by the late addition of fruity hops in the brewing process, keeping the hops tasting fresh and avoiding too much bitterness. The milkshake IPA is different from a standard NEIPA because it contains one key ingredient: lactose. As well as being the ingredient that gave rise to the MIPA name, lactose – milk sugar – is what gives milkshake IPAs their exceptionally sweet and creamy flavour and texture. Typically, the lactose gets adds at the ‘flameout’ stage of brewing, which is just after the wort (which is the liquid from which beer is brewed) is boiled but before the brew is chilled and fermented. Adding the lactose at this point ensures it adds the maximum flavour without being boiled off or made bitterer in the boiling process.
Pairing up the beer
Like all IPAs, milkshake IPAs should be served chilled, somewhere between seven and ten degrees centigrade – cooler than a Belgian or English ale, but some way warmer than a lager. This temperature ensures none of the flavours are muted by the cold as well as making sure that the beer does not get flat from being too warm. Generally with food and beer pairings, one should go with something of a similar richness, otherwise either the food or the beer flavour will get lost. For a strong fruity IPA, rich food is good – steak, lobster, or game will all go well. Milkshake IPAs are also a great after-dinner beer to be drunk in the same way as you might sip on a heady Belgian brew after a big meal.
Where to pick up a brew
Most taprooms – the kind of places you’ll find a decent milkshake IPA – have rotating casts of beers, so it’s difficult to predict exactly when they will or won’t be on draught. But there are plenty of places in Singapore where you can pick up a decent brew, including one of our favourites, SG Taps.