Sour IPAs existed long before Hudson Valley, but they will never be the same again.
Of all the new breweries I’ve discovered in the past year, none have jumped as quickly to the top of my “must have” list as much as Hudson Valley. Tucked away in upstate New York, this old factory turned brewery has put out some truly amazing beers. Many breweries focus on a particular style; Hudson Valley has decided to take a fairly uncommon type of beer and push the boundaries of what it can be. Enter the strange world of the sour IPA.
This is a pretty accurate description of the flavors present in this beer!
Sours and IPAs have been around for a while (I talk about a bunch of great sour beers here), and even the idea of a sour IPA is not new. Most of the ones I’ve tried before Hudson Valley were more West Coast style – clean, crisp and sharply bitter with a grapefruit note commonly being the sour aspect of things. But just when I thought the style went as far as it could, Hudson Valley went up and changed the game. This can at least partially be attributed to the rise of the New England style IPA, which many breweries such as Other Half have brought into the forefront. Hudson Valley has merged these newer NE IPAs with sour beers to create a series of delightfully culinary treats.
Apotheosis is a culinary treat – unless you have a nut allergy.
One of the biggest takeaways from using a NE IPA as a base is the body of these beers: a lot of them are thicker and creamier thanks to the typically added raw wheat, malted oats and milk sugars. This also contributes to the flavor profile, adding a smooth, almost yogurt-like blend of sweetness and tartness which is subsequently altered by the unique adjuncts added. One of my absolute favorites is Apotheosis, a Citra hopped variant of their “base” sour beer with almonds, cinnamon and vanilla. It is in all regards a mind-blowing beer, tasting like a cinnamon bun and a almond croissant rolled into something sour but still delicious – a combination I never would’ve expected to work before Hudson Valley. There are real almonds in here though, so if you have an allergy be warned!
Great beer always brings great people with it!
This brewery is not flying under the radar, either: with every release they get more hyped up, pulling more and more upstate to the quaint town of Beacon, NY. The one release I showed up to initially had allotments of four 4-packs per person, but even though I arrived almost four hours early to the noon release, I was only able to leave with one pack of each beer! As always, a release like this pulls together people from all over, and makes for a great line experience. An interesting thing to note is that they have a communal share table, where line-waiters can put a beer down as payment and get to sample whatever is available. If you want to hear more about this release and the beers in particular, the first episode of my podcast Hop Talk is all about it!
I’m a big fan of peaches, especially when it comes to sours, and you should be too!
A lot of their releases come as a set, dividing the fan base as to which beer was the best of that batch. As an example, the “brunch-style” sour beer series Silhouette was released in pineapple, tangerine and peach variants all on the same day. That’s in order from worst to best in my opinion, but to be honest even their worst beers are a treat! Apotheosis had a sister beer as well, Babylon using blood orange. This was more of a classic sour IPA with the bitter tartness of the blood orange, and while it was still delicious it just couldn’t hold up to the unique experience Apotheosis brought.
The inclusion of lavender in this beer makes for a refreshing yet calming experience!
The last beer I wanted to talk about today comes from their most recent release. Mirrorshield is the same base sour IPA recipe, but brewed with lychee, chamomile and lavender. Despite being a nice little Legend of Zelda reference, this might be the best beer Hudson Valley will ever make (at least in my opinion). You immediately get a bright, tropical note from the lychee and Mosaic hops, but that quickly fades to a cooling, lavender floral note. I’ve had a delicious lavender sour from Plan Bee Brewing before, and having enjoyed that and being a big tea fan, I knew I had to score a can of this somehow. I was not let down – the lavender and chamomile lingers throughout the finish for an experience I can only call relaxing. If I picked one beer to bring on a desert island, this might just be it!
While it’s not the easiest brewery to reach in New York, Hudson Valley is not the hardest to reach either. There’s stuff to do nearby as well if you want to make a day trip out of it – Storm King and DIA:Beacon have some great art installations, there are some nice restaurants to dine at (including a Doctor Who themed spot!), and scenic locations to explore. There are a couple places to get some great craft beer as well. If you’re into sour IPAs, sour beers or expanding your beer palate in general, one thing is for certain – if you make the trip to visit Hudson Valley, you will not be disappointed.