Flowers are always a pretty sight, but typically aren’t the kind of thing that gets eaten regularly – except perhaps by rogue naturalists and deranged old hippies. The nutritional value of a tulip or a daisy is debatable, but the Ithaca Beer Company has gone a step further than just chewing on petals by creating an IPA infused with flower essences.
That’s right, a beer brewed with flowers.
Ithaca Beer Company’s Flower Power IPA sounds like a nostalgic stumble down some LSD-induced memory lane, but this is a surprisingly strong and hoppy beer that is betrayed by its hippie-dippy name.
Truth be told, the initial reason I bought this beer was due to the swirling psychedelic label, an indulgence to my weakness for 1960s counterculture. Having been raised by wild hippies, I grew up with an appreciation – if not a little bit of befuddled curiosity – for the whole “flower power” movement, so when I saw this beer sitting innocently on the liquor store shelf I figured this would be the closest I’d ever get to Woodstock, so I gave it a shot.
Imagine my surprise when I tasted the serious kick in the pants this beer affords. I guess those old flower children really know what they’re doing when it comes to IPAs.
Based in Ithaca, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes region, the Ithaca Beer Company specializes in ales. While they have gained notoriety for their daring Cascazilla Red IPA, the prowess of Flower Power is what has truly put this brewing company on the craft brew map – they were one of the final four in the National IPA Championship in 2008, 2010 and 2011. So in this case, the Flower definitely has the power.
The aroma of Flower Power is exactly what the name suggests: the equivalent of a floral topiary garden in the height of spring. Underneath that first flowery whiff, however, are definite notes of tropical fruit like pineapple and mango with a deeper layer of lemon throughout. Taste-wise, this is a surprisingly powerful brew: the presence of grassy and herbal undertones melds well with the dryness of the hops and the bitterness in the finish is complimented well by the aftertaste of citrus. Like sticking a straw into an alcohol-soaked tangerine, Flower Power is a subtly fruity beer that is anything but, well, “fruity.”
This cloudy yellow nectar pours into a pint glass like liquid gold with an inch-thick off-white head that leaves plenty of lacing once it settles. Mild carbonation accentuates the citrusy body and hits the tongue with a refreshingly distinct taste, giving the overall impression of a well-crafted IPA. With traces of grapefruit and butter cleverly hidden in the mix, Flower Power IPA is certainly at no shortage for uniqueness and variety in taste.
If you’re a fan of Thai food, Flower Power is an exceptional compliment to the hearty spices in many Thai dishes, accentuating the flavors of the food with the crisp taste of hops and honey malt. This beer also pairs well with many Mexican or Indian dishes. Pretty much any meal that is heavy on spices and big on flavor will be a good pairing with this flowery treat.
But I warn you, fellow beer drinkers, to use caution – that first Flower Power is so tasty that you may very well be craving another as soon as you polish off that first one, and then before you know it, you’ve downed the whole six pack and suddenly find yourself wondering who the hell drank all your delicious beer.
Alas, this is a curse we beer geeks must bare; sometimes one delicious beer is just not enough to satisfy our cravings. Here’s to all my fellow IPA drinkers – find your inner flower child and tip back a nice bottle of Flower Power. You certainly won’t regret it.
Emily Brightman can be reached at [email protected]