I fully support craft brews that push boundaries, especially when the risk pays off.
Beer doesn’t need to be crammed into a set style — it can do whatever it pleases.
I couldn’t help but light up when I finally decided to try Red Hare Brewing Co.’s Tangerine SPF 50/50, which is in the brewery's year-round core lineup. Little to my knowledge, I was about to open my eyes a little wider to the possibilities of craft beer.
Bobby Thomas, co-founder and head brewer of Red Hare Brewing, shared that the stroke of brilliance was prompted by making a radler. This German-style beer traditionally is created through combining a citrus juice, like lemonade, with a lager.
Thomas said the brewery staff started mixing juices with their Long Day Lager, and a new idea hit them. After finishing a batch of Gangway IPA (a bitter West Coast IPA), they decided to marry it with grapefruit juice.
“We drank it and were like, ‘Oh, wow, this is a winner,’” Thomas said. “We made the world’s first IPR (India Pale Radler).”
The beer, named Grapefruit SPF 50/50, was born in 2015 and has stayed with the brewery ever since. Red Hare Brewing dubbed the style, “India Pale Radler” because it’s not exactly an IPA, nor a radler. Despite the “50/50” nature of the name, Thomas noted that the ratio of juice to beer is not half-and-half.
Trust me folks, I asked for the proportions, but not all good magicians reveal their secrets. That was the case with Thomas, who kindly brushed me off when I pressed him for the recipe.
Two years after conjuring Grapefruit SPF 50/50, Red Hare Brewing decided to make a different version of the style, this time using tangerine juice instead of grapefruit.
Tangerine SPF 50/50
Brewery: Red Hare Brewing Co.
Alcohol by volume: 4.2%
Style: Tangerine India Pale Radler
Bottom line: Fun combination of a bitter beer and vibrant juice
The result: A tango between vibrant, slightly sweet citrus and bitter hops. I haven't tried the original grapefruit version, but the tangerine “IPR” offers quite the refreshing brew. It smells strongly of clementines and embraces both the sharp bite of an IPA and the tangy nature of citrus fruit. This is the sort of light beer ideal for warm spring and summer days, especially if you’re near a body of water.
It’s widely distributed outside Atlanta, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it at your local beer shop or grocery store.
Witnessing the success of both tangerine and grapefruit styles, Thomas has experimented with adding other juice concentrates to the IPA, like lemon-lime and a cranberry-pineapple combination. The brewer is currently toying with the idea of making a creamsicle version of the IPR, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic.
Red Hare Brewing is also celebrating its 10th anniversary next month with live music, beer specials, a commemorative glass and other festivities from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 8, at its 1998 Delk Industrial Blvd. location in Marietta. For more information about the event and its tasty brews, check out redharebrewing.com.