Beers We Like: Tandem Pilot from Hampline Brewing

Tulip glass with beer next to Tandem Pilot DIPA from Hampline Brewing

New England-style IPAs — those IPAs with intense fruit flavors and aromas — have become one of the more popular beer styles in the last decade.

Inspired by Alchemist’s Heady Topper, breweries in New England created their own interpretations of the style, which the Beer Judge Certification Program describes as an American IPA with “less perceived bitterness than traditional IPAs but always massively hop forward.”

“This emphasis on late hopping, especially dry hopping, with hops with tropical fruit qualities lends the specific ‘juicy’ character for which this style is known.”

You can trace the lineage of Tandem Pilot, from Memphis’s Hampline Brewing Co., to the breweries up north that were innovators in the style.

“Tandem Pilot, and all of our hazy IPAs, are inspired by northeastern IPAs that I have had from Hill Farmstead, Tree House, and Trillium breweries,” said Hampline head brewer Wes Osier.

“When I first started brewing this style of IPA down at Urban South, I made several ‘research trips’ to New England breweries to see what was going on at the source.”

Tandem Pilot will hit you with a ton of tropical aroma, but it finishes smooth.

Osier describes the mouthfeel as “more viscous,” which he said comes from the extra protein content in the beer.

“We use a straightforward malt bill with roughly 60% pils malt, 25% pale wheat malt and 15% oat flakes, or wheat flakes, depending on what’s on hand,” he said.

Wes Osier, Hampline Brewing's head brewer
Wes Osier, Hampline Brewing Co.

For hops, Osier uses Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado, “roughly a third of the hop bill in the whirlpool, and the rest for dry hopping in multiple stages.”

The amount of hops used in Tandem Pilot make it a fairly expensive brew, and Osier hasn’t found a way to impart the expected hop aroma without adding a minimum of 5 pounds per barrel.

Hampline’s Handlebar Haze, a New England-style IPA that’s also excellent, is a 6.6% ABV beer. Tandem Pilot is bigger, a “double” IPA that clocks in at 8.1% ABV.

It’s definitely not for everyone.

“Personally, I have reached the point where I prefer 5.5-6.5% ABV IPAs,” Osier said. “But many people enjoy double IPAs, as reflected on Untapped, so we are doing doubles.”

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