I don’t mean the smooth New England hazy IPAs that have graced taprooms over the past couple of years. I'm talking about the strong hoppy ones, also called West Coast-style IPAs, that engulf your taste buds with grapefruit or piney bitterness.
When many other American breweries were cramming loads of hops into their IPAs to impart striking flavors in 2017, Pap Datta, owner of Left Nut Brewing Co., said his brewery had other plans in mind.
“We decided instead of going around and saying, ‘Hey, let’s see how many hops we can put in,’ let’s try to create an IPA in the simplest and most basic form,” Datta said. “But still have every characteristic that an IPA needs.”
Datta said he chose to brew the Bridge to Nowhere IPA, which is only made with one variety of hops , called Columbus.
“The intent of this IPA was not to shy away from the classic bitterness, but not also overpower with bitterness,” Datta said. “We added crystal malt to balance out the bittering property that Columbus brings to the table.”
The Bridge to Nowhere IPA is Left Nut’s first official IPA and one of its flagship beers. Datta said he chose to pay homage to Gainesville’s “bridge to nowhere” in downtown because it strikes a connection to the craft beer industry.
During the beginnings of Left Nut, Datta said he would meet people who called themselves “craft beer aficionados” who believed that breweries weren’t credible unless they made bitter IPAs. To pick fun at the pretentious beer snobs, he named Left Nut’s first IPA after Gainesville’s pedestrian bridge.
“To us, a person or individual with the whole mindset that IPAs are the only craft beer, you’re basically transcending your bridge to nowhere,” Datta said. “You think you’re on a path of discovery, yet what you're doing is relegating yourself to one corner of craft brewing.”
Datta said the landmark in Gainesville also acts as a metaphor for Left Nut.
“It’s about having a long-term vision of the future and building your pathway toward it,” Datta said. “One of the things Gainesville had was a vision and built a bridge to that vision. Unfortunately, the economy stifled that for a while, but the idea is to be bold and step forward in an arena most cannot see.”
If you’ve kept up with The Times, you probably know that the bridge to nowhere in Gainesville will soon become a bridge to somewhere. The pedestrian bridge will lead people from Roosevelt Square to Solis Gainesville, which has just begun construction. The project from Atlanta developer Terwilliger Pappas will have 220 apartments and 10,000 square feet of space for restaurants or retail.
Anyway, let’s get back to the beer. So how does it taste?
When I took a sip of this IPA, the bite of hops startled me. This beer is unapologetically bitter and doesn’t hold any punches.
If you’re tired of smooth IPAs and want something that leaves your tongue prickling with piney notes, this is the beer for you.
Bridge to Nowhere IPA
Brewery: Left Nut Brewing Co.
Alcohol by volume: 6.5%
Style: Single-hop IPA
Bottom line: An unapologetic IPA that embraces its bitter bite