The ubiquity of IPAs in the bay area — and everywhere else — makes it tough for individual brews to stand out from the pack. Nevertheless, a few come along that are worth a deeper look, such as the new French oak-aged version of Rome City, the multiaward winning flagship IPA from Lakeland’s Brew Hub.
Originally featured in this column in August of 2017, Rome City’s strength lies in excellent execution of a reliable style, without bells and whistles, and without any indulgence in modern trends — hazy IPAs, milkshake IPAs and sour IPAs, for example.
The new French Oaked Rome City is very much the same lively pale ale that it started as before the French oak touch: citrus-forward but with a pine-resin backbone that harkens back to the classic West Coast IPAs of the ’90s and early ’00s. It’s a medium-bodied brew that pours a rich gold hue, with a fluffy white head that lasts seemingly forever.
The addition of French oak during aging adds a new layer to the mix, contributing an earthy spiciness to the beer. Where other varieties of oak, such as American white oak, contribute everything from vanilla to dill notes, the French oak character is drier, with a more savory spice quality reminiscent of clove and black pepper.
French Oaked Rome City has another interesting quality: an unusual mouthfeel that begins soft and creamy and finishes dry and slightly tannic. This light astringency in the finish is a nice foil to the big orange and grapefruit notes that the beer spotlights at the start.
Rome City is an exceptional local IPA in its own right, and this new French Oaked Rome City is a very worthy twist on Brew Hub’s well-regarded core brew. Find it in 16-ounce cans at your local beer shop, or take a trip to Brew Hub’s tasting room to try it at the source.
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