It was time for a no-nonsense project. A couple of ingredients caught my fancy: Omega’s Cosmic Punch yeast, optimized for Hazy IPAs, and Oast House’s hop terpene isolates. My prior terpene experiment (Ionization Brut IPA) was intentionally rooted in my typical some-nonsense (and often all-nonsense) approach.
I settled on an IPA that would tend towards the hazy, with the hops supplying a variety of citrus and stonefruit aromas that would be accentuated by the final addition of the Eldorado terpenes.
When I was thinking about the Eldorado terpenes my sensory wires got crossed; I suddenly realized that this had to be a Golden IPA. The grain bill then became an exercise in getting a good malt flavor and nailing the color.
Golden Promise was a natural base malt, with some wheat for head retention and a little rye for some spice to balance the sweetness. Some Golden Candi syrup to up the ABV and finally a small amount of honey malt mostly to fine-tune the hue.
This one hits it straight down the fairway. Beautiful golden color. Just a little bitter with a whole bunch of fruit in the nose. It’s not quite a session and it won’t put you under the table. Not a hint of nonsense. I would drink a lot of these.
So much of this project was about simplification. I settled on record collecting—arguably one of this site’s primary concerns—as my theme.
The beer’s color brought to mind the cover of the first Electric Light Orchestra album. This was probably the fourth or fifth album I ever owned. It was 1982, and I was a huge fan of ELO’s technopop singles from the Time album (particularly “Twilight”). For my birthday my buddies bought me this beast from 1971 (probably because none of us had much money and it was available at The Nice Price) and it was…. confusing. Sawing violins, Tin Pan Alley piano, an Oliver Cromwell monologue. But it grew on me—and here we are today.
So I copped the beer’s name from album’s opening track. In a few happy coincidences, it also echoes the zip code of Larchmont, NY (the namesake of the shopping boulevard in the neighborhood of the HLH brewhouse) and shares some DNA with Firestone Walker’s flagship beverage. It felt right.
I wanted to return to a simpler image for the label as well. The beer-playing gramaphone was an iconic representation of what this site’s all about, as well as being old-timey in a way that respected the inspiration. Kevgusar from Indonesia came back with a beautiful engraving-inspired illustration.
The genius of ELO is that none of its music ever had any good reason to exist and most of the best bits were stolen. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” with a “Superstition” clavinet? “Heroes & Villains” with a Mariachi trumpet? The middle 8 of “A Day in the Life” blown out into its own song and augmented with a choir and orchestra? Roy Orbison seesawing with carousel music?
Proto-ELO is weirder by half. The original idea was to fuse rock music with classical instrumentation. What you get instead is music that comes from some weird imaginary timeline that mashes up medieval Britain and Rudy Vallee, with the occasional electric guitar thrown in and one blatant “Classical Gas” ripoff.
As an IPA guy, 10538 Golden feels like the golden standard for what an IPA should be. Peppery, botanical, tropical, and oh so smooth and dry. You know what you’re getting when you look at it: a damn good, no frills, IPA. When my buddy and I closed our eyes while drinking this in my backyard we decided that we were hiking along the coast of Baja California. Take me back!!!