Craft Beer Review: Homefront IPA
Just in time for the end of baseball season, I have gotten a chance to sample a beer that came out at the start of the season. But hey, reviews are “evergreen,” compared to my calendar articles, and I expect this beer will be easier to locate next season.
Homefront IPA, a collaboration beer by nine different brewers, aged on baseball bats, as a fundraider for Operation Homefront.
Homefront IPA is a collaboration beer that was first made in 2012, formulated by Chris Ray, a former Seattle Mariner pitcher and co-founder of Center of the Universe Brewing Co. in Ashland, VA. He and brother Phil worked out the Homefront IPA as a fundraiser for Operation Homefront, an organization dedicated to providing emergency and financial assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. The 2012 batch was brewed in collaboration with Fremont Brewing Co. of Seattle.
Besides serving as a fundraiser, the Homefront beer is unique in one respect: besides being brewed with a specified hop bill and orange peel, each batch is aged on maple baseball bat stock, donated by Louisville Slugger. After use, the bats were then auctioned off. The 2012 effort raised $165,000 for Operation Homefront.
The 2013 version had more local brewers behind it, with the idea that each area will be able to find this beer from a nearby maker. Besides COTU and Fremont, the 2013 collaborators were Sly Fox Brewing, Phoenixville, PA; Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL; Perennial Artisan Ales, St. Louis, MO; The Phoenix Ale Brewery, Phoenix, AZ; 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA; Left Hand Brewing, Longmont, CO, and Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA. Now, I contacted those brewers who are represented in the Chicago area, but none of them were planning on a wide distribution for the planned relase on Memorial Day.
As it turned out, the Left Hand batch had to be delayed, and would not come out until June, with 20 cases and one keg coming the our market. I discovered a bottle in July at one of my locals, Standard Market of Lombard, and I now proffer this description:
A big, zesty nose of lupalin hops and citrus. Poured a dark orange, almost brown, under a big tan head. The taste further emphasized the big smack of hop aroma. Very citrusy, what with the added orange peel. I think we can compare it to a Tyranena Scurvy. Very sticky malts, but not overly sweet. After a month in my fridge, it’s still a powerfully hoppy but enjoyable IPA. Those buying it to support the charity may find themselves somewhat gobsmacked. I would not really know how to tell the taste of maple, but at least it doesn’t suggest getting hit in the mouth with a baseball bat.
As the Homefront IPA project is ongoing, I think we can look for this to return next spring, perhaps with some more local brewers involved. Though it would suggest being a “general purpose” beer to appeal to an audience outside the craft beer realm, this really stands up well as a craft beer, too.