Before Chris Elliott was dubbed head brewer of Wild Leap Brew Co., he had another title — Ice cream man.
“I spent nine years in the ice cream industry,” Elliott said. “It was only a matter of time before we started spinning ice cream beer.”
Truck Chaser Strawberry Eclair Double IPA
Brewery: Wild Leap Brew Co.
Alcohol by volume: 8.1%
International Bitterness Units: 49
Style: Double IPA
Bottom line: An ice cream sweet brew with a bitter bite
With Elliotti’s encouragement, Wild Leap kicked off its Truck Casher series in January 2019. The goal of the lineup was to recreate the iconic flavors you’d find in an ice cream truck. So far the brewery has put out a Creamsicle Double IPA, Bomb Pop Double IPA and more recently, a Strawberry Eclair Double IPA.
Instead of creating brews that taste exactly like their inspired ice cream, Elliott said he wanted to impart the sugary sweet flavors, while also letting the hops shine through.
“I had a lot of milkshake IPAs that were good, but wished they would showcase the style,” Elliott said. “We were going for a balance. We were trying to keep it approachable and drinkable, but at the same time be true to the style.”
Elliott did exactly what he was aiming for with the Strawberry Eclair Double IPA.
He added a pop of strawberry, natural vanilla bean and lactose with a little bit of graham cracker and brown sugar. Elliott said the vanilla and lactose elements help give it that classic ice cream flavor.
When I cracked open the beer, I didn’t have to lift my nose up to the can to catch the strong aroma of strawberry ice cream.
I assumed the beer would taste smooth, sweet and milky like most of the milkshake IPAs I’ve tried. This was not the case.
The beer was super sweet at first, then slapped my tastebuds with a bitter bite of hops. Elliott definitely recreated what he set out to do. He made a beer that kept the hop-forwardness of a double IPA, while still embracing the sweetness of ice cream.
Despite being an interesting and creative beer, I reluctantly admit that it’s not my cup of tea. I think the combination of bitter hops and sugary sweetness turned me off of this one.
However, don’t let me stop you from trying out this fun brew. My husband and many other people enjoy it. He describes the strawberry eclair beer as “the type of drink you can sip on a hot summer day.”
Luckily, this beer isn’t the last in Wild Leap’s Truck Chaser series. Elliott said he will continue bringing back classic flavors and introducing new ones until the brewery runs out of iconic flavors to recreate.
You can drink the Strawberry Eclair Double IPA on tap at Wild Leap’s location at 308 Main St. in Lagrange, or pick up a four-pack at your local beer shop or grocery store.
For more information about Wild Leap’s brews, visit wildleap.com.