Undoubtedly the most trendy and talked about beer style of the past decade is the hazy IPA. Proliferated by talented New England breweries like The Alchemist, Tree House, Trillium, the popular spin on the modern IPA has popped up all over the country and around the world.

Like any good trend, the hazy IPA — also called the New England IPA — has seen riffs and remixes. Personally, we’ve seen it doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled. We’ve seen it dry-hopped, double dry-hopped, triple dry-hopped, cryo-hopped, lupulin-powdered. It’s featured kveik yeast, it’s been soured, it’s been fruited. The sour IPA category may not be a direct variation on the hazy IPA — it’s more of a blend of or halfway point between kettle sours and New England IPAs. However, the clearest continuation of the style is in the milkshake IPA.

What is a Milkshake IPA?

“I would say the bare bones of a Milkshake IPA would be a Hazy IPA brewed with milk sugar,” says Rob McCoy, Production Manager at Great Notion Brewing. “The combination of milk sugar and fruit is what really defines these beers and puts them in a new category.

The milkshake IPA takes the chewy softness typical of the hazy IPA to the extreme. The addition of unfermentable milk sugars (lactose) adds a pillowy creaminess to the beers. The result is a smooth, delightful mouthfeel, similar to the sensation you’d expect in a milk stout. The addition of fruit or vanilla can aid that silky, creamy texture. Additionally, it can inject tartness, tropical flavor, or candied sweetness.

“The style is defined by an above-average haze that gives the impression of viscosity,” says Kevin Vincent, Parish Brewing Co.’s Lead Cellarman. “Lactose is a staple ingredient that lends some confectionary sweetness under the usually high dry-hopping rate.”

Why has the Milkshake IPA been so popular lately?

“I think brewers have been taking more culinary approaches to their beer to stay inspired,” says Vincent.

While Parish Brewing Co. hasn’t released their own version of the milkshake IPA, they’ve become industry leaders in the hazy IPA category. Vincent himself has enjoyed the creativity on display in many milkshake IPAs. “Personally speaking, being inspired by food science and the culinary arts, using fruit in a craft manner lends many opportunities to influence appearance, texture, and aroma of beer much more than dosing with fruit extracts and oils,” he explains. “Also, since consumers are accustomed to consuming beer with textures ranging from filtered and clean all the way to containing actual fruit pulp, it creates a spectrum of interpretations on the fruited beer style.”

Not to mention, it just seems to be fun for many brewers. “I believe this generation of brewers draw much inspiration from childhood treats which have allowed more extreme beer styles and brands to be successful,” Vincent mentions.

Who invented the Milkshake IPA?

Initially, the style was popularized by Stockholm’s Omnipollo, as well as Tired Hands in Philadelphia. Now, breweries across the country have released their own versions of the style. Like the originators, they’re making use of fruit purees, like those from Oregon Fruit Products, to add texture, acidity, and even color to their milkshake creations.

“Tropical fruits are a no brainer when it comes to Milkshake IPA,” McCoy says. “They just pair so easily with Hazy IPA hops. Personally, I’m a sucker for some Apricot. It’s such a great fruit to pair with everything from IPA to barrel-aged sours.”

Oregon Fruit Product’s blueberry puree is magical,” shares Vincent. “From the appearance to the texture and aroma, it is excellent.”

Milkshake IPA seems to be meeting consumers where they are and allowing brewers to flex some creative muscles. They’re sweet, confectionary, trendy beers. But, what’s wrong with that? McCoy affirms, “At the end of the day, whether it’s Milkshake IPA, Hazy IPA, Pilsner, Lambic, ESB, etc., I just want people to be excited about beer.”

Below, we’ve picked five of our favorite recent examples of the milkshake IPA from across the country.

Our 5 Favorite Milkshake IPAs

Guava Mochi

Great Notion Brewing — Portland, OR

Great Notion’s Mochi series of beers plays with fruit and lactose to create delicious, culinary-inspired beers. The Guava Mochi version is tropical, sweet, and playful.

Learn More

Opaque Thoughts

Mountains Walking Brewery — Bozeman, MT

Mountains Walking was a recent discovery for us. If you haven’t heard of the Bozeman, MT brewery, they produce progressive, creative, and tasty beers. The milkshake IPA Opaque Thoughts used guavas and Papa New Guinea vanilla bean for a lush, fruit-forward beer. It had the requisite amount of haze and softness with a tropical fruit pop and a slight acidic backbone.

Learn More

Rare Treat

Cerebral Brewing — Denver, CO

Cerebral Brewing took us back to the candy store with this sweets-inspired milkshake IPA. Rare Treat was brewed with peach gummy rings, lactose, and vanilla. With huge candied fruit flavors and a mellow, creamy mouthfeel, Rare Treat was an exceptional example of the style.

Learn More

Mood Ring (Raspberry)

Bearded Iris Brewing Co. — Nashville, TN

This milkshake IPA from Nashville’s Bearded Iris is brewed with raspberry, vanilla bean, and lactose. The addition of raspberries added a slight acidic kick to this fruited milkshake. Additionally, the vibrant color anticipated a fantastic drinking experience.

Learn More

Together or Alone

Foam Brewers — Burlington, VT

Foam Brewers didn’t use any fruit in this beer but it was just as much a milkshake IPA as any other. This double IPA is brewed with oats and lactose for a characteristically smooth, creamy beer. Because its silky texture made for a perfect fireside beer, we included this in our article on the best beers to drink this winter.

Learn More

This is a paid, sponsored post presented by our friends at Oregon Fruit Products.

Liked this article? Sign up for our newsletter to get the best craft beer writing on the web delivered straight to your inbox.