This week I stumbled upon two beers from very different styles with one thing in common - Galaxy hops. This Australian hop is very similar to Citra or Amarillo flavor-wise, as it imparts tropical fruit and citrus flavors and has really become popular as of late.
I’ll start with an Illinois brewery’s use of the hop in their IPA; BrickStone’s Galaxy Down Under.
BrickStone has been brewing up beers in Bourbonnais, Illinois (about 55 miles south of Chicago) since 2006. They began as a great place to eat, as well as drink, before their beers began to take off. You can find them throughout Illinois right now and possibly in some neighboring states as well.
I got my hands on one of their newest creations Galaxy Down Under, a 6.5% IPA that costs a little more ($12 for a six-pack).
This single hop IPA is made solely with Galaxy hops and poured a bright golden straw color with three fingers of fluffy slightly off-white head. The foam hung around for a little while before slowly fading away, leaving some tufts of clouds clinging to the edge of my glass.
Galaxy Down Under has an amazing aroma that slowly filled the room. Huge notes of tropical fruits – passion fruit, mango, guava, melon, and more – dominated the scent. Crystal malt and some wheat notes backed up the hoppy, citrus flavors. I couldn’t wait to dive right in.
And the taste didn’t disappoint (initially).
It starts with a pretty solid rush of carbonation before the flavors really start to pop. And I mean pop…the juicy flavors appear in bursts across your palate; first it was melon and guava before the passion fruit and mango suddenly busts in, and then its tangerine and grapefruit that push those to the side.
However, on the backend of the sip, even as the tropical flavors continue to explode, a sharp bitter hop bite also rears its teeth. The bitterness is calmed some by the flavors and the light malt but those that don’t enjoy hops will be turned off by this – and even I found it strong on some tastes. Untappd says this beer has 38 IBU...but it certainly tastes like more (the can and BrickStone’s website don’t give an IBU rating so I guess I’ll take their word).
The sip ends on a semi-dry note with a long lasting resinous finish. The 6.5% ABV is higher than average but nothing too crazy. It’s hidden well but there are some moments when you can taste it and others when you can feel it in your chest as you swallow.
As the beer was drained from my cup, the little line of bubbles that still topped the beer laced my glass sporadically. There were single clouds here and there, peppering my glass with foam, but overall, it didn’t do much lacing.
Once the beer warms some the bitter bite seems to lose some of its strength making the last third of the beer the most enjoyable part. Everything seemed to calm down and blend together here, no insane pops of flavor or hoppy sting…just a much more balanced taste.
For me this beer started off so well…but then it had that strangely sharp hop sting halfway through and that lingering aftertaste that kind of let me down. It rebounded though once it warmed up and became smoother and more balanced.
Galaxy Down Under has some really tasty tropical flavors to it. But it also can have a heavy hop presence so be warned.
Next up a beer with the same hops but a way different style: Almanac’s Tropical Platypus.
Almanac Beer Co. was founded back in 2010 in San Francisco, California by two friends who wanted to create seasonal ales designed to compliment the local food and produce of northern Cali. They specialize in sour and wild ales all while using locally grown ingredients from small, family-run farms. You can find them sporadically across the US in eight states: Cali, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, and parts of Pennsylvania.
What’s cool is all of their brews can be cellared for a couple of years or drank immediately…but I’m not one for waiting around.
Especially after I read the label of Tropical Platypus…I knew I was drinking it right away.
Tropical Platypus is a sour blonde ale aged in wine barrels with a heap of tropical fruits (kiwi, mango, lime and passion fruit to be exact), then aged in oak barrels and dry hopped with Galaxy hops. However, it doesn’t come cheap, at $10.99 for a 375 mL (12.68 ounces) bottle.
This sour ale poured a very cloudy but super bright golden straw color with loads of sediment floating around. About a finger of tiny white bubbles built up before fizzling down into just a dusting after a moment or two.
On the nose, Tropical Platypus had that super tart, slightly yeasty aroma that almost all sours exhibit. But behind the tartness all those fruit notes were hiding. The lime and mango stood out the most but tiny hints of grapes, from the wine barrels, were lingering as well.
My first taste began with a light carbonation rush before everything exploded on my palate. The kiwi and lime start everything off with a soft tartness before the mango calms it down. Those grapes notes really cut into the sour aspect and impart a nice white wine crispness to it all.
Towards the backend of the sip there is a brief pop from the Galaxy hops and a nice blend of all those tropical fruits to really bring the experience to a close. The beer then ends on a slightly dry note with a lingering wine quality and some sticky sugary qualities from all the fruit they used.
Those tiny bubbles that sit atop the beer don’t lace the glass at all…well I shouldn’t say that. There is one cloud sitting just above the liquid but literally nothing else. All that sediment that was floating around initially had now sunk to the bottom, creating a dark spot at the bottom of the glass.
Overall this was a really tasty beer. There was some sourness to it but not a whole lot, as the tropical flavors and wine-like characteristics took over. My biggest issue is the price. It’s hard to afford an $11 bottle of beer…but if you feel like splurging on yourself (or a friend), this is a good brew to do it with. If it was cheaper it’d be an A for sure…but with that price tag…