If you ask anybody that has tried “craft beer” for the first time, they will most likely regale you of stories of a hop-forward IPA or India Pale Ale.
It’s popularity and accessibility has made it the poster child for the entire craft beer movement nationwide. According to the Brewers Association, the American-Style India Pale Ale had the most entries at last year’s Great American Beer Festival with the Imperial IPA coming in second.
A popular question that I have heard is “Why do we even need an IPA Day?” or grumblings that everyday should be IPA Day. While I love the IPA and celebrate the big flavors from the various hops used, it is not my everyday go-to beer.
Now in its sixth year of celebration, IPA Day falls on the first Thursday of August and was originally limited to a “social media holiday” but it has grown to be something much, much more.
With the sudden influx of craft breweries in Tucson, there was a bevy of beer houses that I could have visited to celebrate this occasion but ultimately, I decided on the brewery that has gained national recognition for its flagship beer, the IPA. No fancy name, no witty hop-based moniker, just a straight forward true West Coast IPA.
Since its inception in 2012, Dragoon Brewing Co. has offered two beers, the Stronghold Session Ale and the IPA.
It was my honor to be invited for the grand opening just over four years ago and within a few short months, the Dragoon IPA was being heralded as the best IPA not only in Tucson but also in Arizona. The combination of Summit, Columbus, Apollo, Magnum and Nugget hops make this herbal, citrusy beer a local favorite.
Along with the astounding IPA, there was another reason that I was going to hit up the west side brewery; their No School double IPA. A non-traditional double or imperial IPA, the No School IIPA is brewed with some of the newer and most exciting hop varieties including the experimental E-07270, Eureka and Dr. Rudi. The Dr. Rudi hop is a dual-purpose hop bred in New Zealand with bittering and resinous pine attributes.
I say that the No School is a non-traditional IIPA because most Imperials pack both a hop and high A.B.V. punch. This version, however, barely surpasses the original IPA, clocking in at 7.5 percent ABV and 90 IBUs.
“We wanted it to be bigger,” Dragoon Manager Tristan White said about the beer. “It is still quite amazing and I am quite pleased.”
The No School is a deceptively smooth and highly drinkable beer on a hot Arizona day. The surprising take-away from this IIPA, once you get by the bitterness, is the strong malt backbone. The darker color and feel comes from the use of Crystal, Sonoran White Wheat, Caramel and Honey malts that blend incredibly well and beg to be drank with a nice plate of charcuterie.
Regardless of what day it is on the calendar, you will not be disappointed by the beers put out by the Dragoon Brewing team who now employs four brewers and a full complement of tasting room staff. If your hankering for a fresh Dragoon beer hits early in the week, you will be out of luck as the tasting room is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. They are open from 3-10 pm Wednesday thru Friday, 12-10 pm on Saturday and 12-5 pm on Sunday. When you go, be patient as the bar is usually quite busy – but with good reason.