My first experience of Oregon’s Boneyard Beer was one of those coincidental beer moments that flicked on a light inside my head.
As a brewery it’s known these days for stunning takes on the IPA style, pouring them at events such as the Mikkeller Beer Celebration in Copenhagen and at London’s Beavertown Extravaganza. I was completely unaware of Boneyard, however, when I was naively strolling the aisles of the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.
An advertised Triple IPA, named Notorius3, drew me to the brewery’s stand. Unlike the stands for nearby breweries such as Russian River and Dogfish Head, there was no line, so I was soon handing over my tasting glass for my statutory 1oz pour. It was an IPA as good as I have ever tasted – not to say it was better than anything I had tasted before, but the flavours were so precise and well defined I immediately knew this was a brewery that could make IPA better than most. It wasn’t long before they became known outside of their own state for doing just that.
And so we come to this beer, West Coast Dank. Boneyard headed to Norway to collaborate with Lervig for this one, the latter brewery known, among other things, for its excellent recent takes on the hazy, juicy New England style IPA.
However, you won’t find either of those qualities here. In fact, you can detect the sweet snap of crystal malt as soon as you pour it. There’s plenty of dank pine forest and grapefruit pith on the nose too, smoothing out that sweetness.
West Coast Dank effortlessly leads you from notes of sugary malt loaf to flavours of citrus undercut by richly resinous pine. It’s rounded out by a characteristically dry and bitter finish, belying the beer’s 7.1% ABV and leading you straight into your next sip.
Each gulp of this beer, from the first to the last, took me right back to that beer festival in 2013. In a moment it reminded me of all the different spectrums of flavour that IPA can inhabit, whether that be dank, juicy, bitter or whatever. And these are the kind of moments that are fundamental to our beer experience.