Insight Brewing's mantra is to focus on the global history of beer and its many styles, pulling from different directions for unique, handcrafted recipes. Their taproom-only Yuzu Pale Ale is a perfect sample of this brewing philosophy, as the beer takes a familiar light, crisp, and enjoyable pale ale and adds the distinct yuzu fruit, native to Japan, for complementary citrus elements.
While it may bear yuzu in title and is made with a puree added to the barley, yeast, and hops, it's not a typical "fruit beer," where the additional juices override that barley definition. Yuzu tastes something like a mix between grapefruit and a mandarin orange, and those flavors pour out of this beer as an additive to the already citrusy hops.
Yuzu is generally an unfamiliar fruit in the United States, which adds to the beer's mystique. "It really is that obscure of a fruit that most people have never heard of it in their life," says Insight's Ilan Klages-Mundt, estimating that maybe 1 percent of their customers have known the fruit before trying the pale ale.
"I brewed the first batch of Yuzu in Japan, and only made a guess as to how much to use based on the flavor of the fruit," he says of the beer's origins. "By what turned out to be a lucky guess, it ended up being the perfect amount, so I modified the recipe once I was back in the States so it could be scaled up to a commercial batch."
The beer will be available year-round as a taproom-only option, while other Insight beers are shipped out to bars. "We are playing around with adding just a little more yuzu to the beer in the next batch," he adds, returning to the fruit/beer balance, "so the citrus will be kicked up even further. Keep your eyes open in January for the release of batch two."
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