Coopers Australian IPA is the company’s latest limited-edition release designed to appeal to craft beer drinkers.
According to the media release, it showcases “a blend of Australian exotic hops with citrus notes of mandarin and orange as well as piney and passionfruit characteristics”.
“While Australian IPAs have similar characteristics to American IPAs, it’s these local hops that provide a unique and authentic taste.”
My assessment however is that the Galaxy and Eclipse hops in this beer are playing second fiddle to another ingredient, the famous Coopers house yeast.
In the company’s own words: “This lovingly cultivated strain of yeast has been nurtured by generations of Coopers brewers. Its history spans much of the life of our brewery, and it is undoubtedly the ‘star of the show’.”
It’s only proper that the yeast stars in Coopers’ mainstay ales, pale and sparkling, which are hopped with the fairly neutral bittering variety, Pride of Ringwood. They’d be pretty insipid beers without its fruity esters adding complexity.
“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”Abraham Maslow, 1966
But in an IPA, the yeast just feels obtrusive. It is anything but a blank canvas for the aromatic hops, which are confined to being an understudy in the production.
Coopers Australian IPA is not a bad beer. It’s full flavoured and intensely fruity, with balanced bitterness.
But the yeast is so dominant and flavours the beer so richly that it ends up tasting generically Coopers, just like its predecessors Hazy IPA and Fruit of the Woods IPA* (released in 2020), and Brew A IPA (released in 2016).
Coopers can and does use different yeasts where appropriate, namely for the lagers in its portfolio.
I’d love to see the brewing team experiment with a different yeast in future IPAs. Perhaps they could even trial the concept by releasing two different versions of the same beer?
*This was the winning recipe in Coopers’ Master of the Brewniverse DIY brewing competition. It featured five different hop varieties, but ended up tasting very much like a Coopers beer.