Living up to expectations: Warpigs Lazurite IPA

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I live about 90 miles from 3 Floyds Brewery, widely regarded as one of the finest, if not the finest brewery in the United States. I live about 4,200 miles from Mikkeller, a Danish brewery widely regarded as one of the finest breweries in Europe.

For reasons I don’t completely understand, these very distant breweries got together and decided to do a joint project called Warpigs, which is a real brewpub that exists in Copenhagen and Chicago. If you know anything about either of these breweries, you’ll correctly expect that Warpigs beer is pretty sought after, pretty trendy, and pretty pricey.

But I wouldn’t be a proper beer snob if I didn’t give ‘em a try when I get a chance. I blew my first shot a month or so ago, when I was at a local trendy pizza joint and ordered a Bell’s Oberon (kind of a default for me when it’s available) and then realized they had Warpigs Lazurite IPA on tap after my glass was filled. Alas.

Yesterday, at a local grocery store, of all places, I spied a conspicuous stack of black cans in 6 packs: Lazurite in a can. The price: $13. Yeah, that’s a lot for a 6 pack, BUT, considering each one of these would be at least $5 at a bar (gonna guess $7-plus for a pint), I figure I’m SAVING money here.

One other note before we get to the verdict on this special brew: I’m tired of IPA. I’ve BEEN tired of IPA for a few years now. It’s a played-out trend, and I’m honestly surprised it’s stuck around this long, since it’s so one-note, particularly here in America, where the arms race to develop the hoppiest, driest, funkiest IPA has consumed craft breweries for the better part of, what, eight years at least? And now apparently the trend is “hazy” IPAs, which at least have backed away from the bitter hop cliff the entire industry was careering toward.

But we are talking about two of the best breweries in the world here, so I figured I’d at least be getting a golden example of the genre in Lazurite, which was the first beer tapped in the American Warpigs Brewpub. Indeed, as it turns out, I did.

This is very hoppy, to be sure. But there’s a subtlety here that I don’t usually taste with other breweries’ hop-bombs. There’s grapefruit, there’s lime, there’s a juicy, refreshing top note here that paired very well with the pad thai I made for dinner the other night. In the middle, the piney, juniper hop notes hit pretty hard, but for some reason this bouquet of flavor calls to mind a fine gin more than many of its IPA brethren. 

But it’s light and much less dry than most IPAs too. It’s much more drinkable, not offensive to the palate like some of the proudly over-hopped bro beers I’ve had (can you tell I’m not a big IPA fan?). The finish, while a bit fuzzy, still carries more fruit and citrus flavor than I’m used to from an IPA as well.

If you are new to the IPA genre, a lot of Lazurite’s subtlety might be lost on you, since the hops still dominate this flavor to a degree that would overwhelm people not used to it (like my wife, who still made Bitter Beer Face when she tried it). If you have been on a tour of the bro beers of America lately, you might find this a welcome and tasty departure. If you just like beer and are pretty discerning about well-crafted beer, you will probably enjoy this. If you’re going to try it, it is well worth the $13 for a sixer, if for no other reason than it will cost you about half that much just to try one at a pub.

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