Well Above Sea Level, Bristol Beer Factory
Added: Monday, March 1st 2021
Well Above Sea Level (5%)
Just when you thought there couldn’t be any further variants on the India Pale Ale theme, along comes Milk Shake IPA. It started, of course, in the United States, where milk shakes are big business but the beer style has now arrived on these shores.
Bristol Beer Factory is well placed to brew a version of the beer as it has already won many prizes and plaudits for its milk stout. What milk stouts and milk shake IPAs have in common is the use of lactose in the brewing process. Lactose, also known as milk sugar, is made up of galactose and glucose and it can’t be fermented by brewer’s yeast. Unfortunately, as lactose is a dairy product, beers made with it are not suitable for vegans.
The best-known milk stout is Mackeson, once owned by Whitbread and now part of the vast AB InBev portfolio and rarely seen these days: in its hey-day, it rivalled Guinness in sales and popularity. While neither milk stouts nor milk shake IPAs actually contain milk, lactose does give a creamy character to the beer.
Well Above Sea Level is far from sweet. There’s a delicious creamy note on the palate and finish but the beer is generously hopped with Amarillo and Citra American hops that balance the malt and cream with tart citrus fruit notes of grapefruit, lemon and lime. When so many American-inspired IPAs are over hopped, the lactose serves to give balance to the beer.
As spring sunshine pours through the windows into my office, this is a fine refreshing beer, ideal for drinking in the warmer times of the year.
£18 for an eight-pack. www.bristolbeerfactory.co.uk
The brewery has been in operation for around 10 years. It was founded by Simon Bartlett and Sam Burrows, who built their plant in part of the former Ashwell Gate Brewery that was taken over by the big Bristol brewery George’s in the 1930s. George’s later became part of the Courage group.