A significant portion of the world-class beer that Revolver Brewing makes is IPA, or India Pale Ale. And that's with good reason, says master brewer Grant Wood, who founded the family-owned brewery with father-and-son team Ron and Rhett Keisler.
"You cannot be a craft brewery without making IPAs — it seems to be some sort of law," he says. "We tried, though. We went for two years without making one."
But eventually Revolver gave in and now is known for one of its most popular IPAs: Full Tang. At 7.2 percent ABV, it's not a beer that will "tear your head off with hops," says Wood. That's because the four kinds of hops that go into it — Saphir, Mandarina, Apollo, and Citra — are balanced with tangerine peel, giving the brew a classic citrus hop character and slight floral notes but maintaining an easy drinkability.
"I don't want people to feel like they deserve a medal for getting to the bottom of the pint glass," says Wood. "Some people pursue beers only to cross them off their list and never drink them again. I want people to come back again and again to drink mine."
Full Tang was first brewed as a seasonal beer in the summer of 2016. The West Coast-style beer is on the low end of the bitterness scale, with the tangerine peel adding a darker, more savory flavor than a traditional orange.
Preceding Full Tang was Mullet Cutter, a 9 percent ABV English-style double IPA that Wood brewed for Revolver's first anniversary. A whole lot of Weyermann Abbey malt gives this beer a sweetness that's reminiscent of honey, and it's finished with three kettle hops — Summit, East Kent Goldings, and Brambling Cross — and dry-hopped with Citra.
"Aged orange, kind of like the taste of Grand Marnier, and blackcurrant go together with the Citra hops for a mix that's both earthy and sweet," says Wood. "It's all about the balance; you've got to have enough malt in there to lift the hops."
A third IPA is set to join the family in the spring of 2019, and Wood promises that it will be unlike any IPA that Revolver has brewed before.
"Hop Device is going against type," he says. "It's going to lean on the hops and tilt the balance, still with an eye toward drinkability but paler and drier than we've done before. It will have tropical fruit flavors coming from a great set of citrus hops."
Showing how drinkable Revolver's IPAs are, Wood recommends that many of them can pair with just about anything: grilled meats, strong cheeses, and nearly anything with a strong flavor profile.
"You want to match the intensity of the beer to the intensity of the food," he says, but with one major exception. "Don't ever try to pair really spicy food with an IPA. The beer will activate the same set of pain nerves as the food and just multiply the effect. It will not quench. But other than that, beer goes with everything."
You can find Revolver IPAs at most Spec's Wine and Total Wine & More retail stores throughout Houston, plus on draft at several restaurants and pubs.