What is Magic Juice? Well, if we are to go by the artwork on the can (done by OKC’s own Matt Goad) we could assume that this drink is some kind of potion that one might find in a secluded cave playing a game in the Final Fantasy franchise. The psychedelic label hints at a consciousness expanding elixir that may change our perspectives after just one taste. What is inside the can may not be quite as exotic, but the beer itself is of a style that has been genre-busting since its inception.
Elk Valley describes Magic Juice as a North East Style Double IPA, also familiarly termed New England IPA or NEIPA by beer aficionados. The style is just now being recognized by the brewing community at large and only added to the Brewer's Association Beer Style Guidelines last year and to the Style Guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) in 2015.
The NEIPA style developed as a result of experimentation by a few New England-area brewers such as Trillium, Hill Farmstead, and Tree House, who wanted to make something new and put their spin on the ubiquitous IPA style. Now this re-tooling of the IPA is not a new thing, i.e. Black IPA's, Red IPA's, Belgian IPA's, etc. However, the NEIPA style seems to have captivated American beer drinkers, and is even being made by some of the big boys like Sierra Nevada Brewing. The style itself has even given rise to some feuding amongst beer fans much like the East Coast/West Coast beefs in ’90s era rap.
What beer nerds have been arguing about in beer forums across the internet is that this style is more than just taking another style and adding more hops, it is creating a new type of beer by turning the traditional American IPA on its head. Whereas a traditional American IPA would have a clear appearance with a very strong bitterness, the NEIPA is known for its hazy, cloudy, or even murky appearance with a generally low perceived bitterness despite being very hop forward.
Without getting too technical about the timing of hop additions during wort boiling, the idea with a NEIPA is to be a very hop forward beer, but not an enamel peeler like many of the traditional American IPA's popularized by West Coast breweries. The resulting NEIPA is often described as soft, juicy, or even likened to milkshakes and smoothies. Regardless of where your loyalties lie in the West Coast/East Coast IPA feud, one thing is for certain and that is that the NEIPA style is here to stay. So now, on to the review!
This beer is listed by Elk Valley as being 8.2 percent ABV and having 45 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), which would be at the very low end of the BJCP's accepted guidelines for a traditional American IPA.
Aroma and Appearance
The first whiff of this beer suggests that perhaps it was brewed using grapefruits or some sort of melon, and it definitely has that juicy, fruity aroma that is typical of the NEIPA style. The beer is golden in appearance and not quite as hazy or murky as some of the progenitors of the style, but still not as clear as what would be considered acceptable in a traditional American IPA.
Flavor and Mouthfeel
A single sip of this beer is an explosion of flavor that suggests quite the hop bill, and I am sure that it is not cheap to produce. The flavor of all those hops is dominant, but the following bitterness that usually accompanies in a traditional IPA is not present.
This beer lays softly on the palate and is propped up by a nice malt character that gladly plays a supporting role in the overall impression of the beer. The finish is pleasant and almost sweet from the malt which is the backbone of this high gravity beer (see 8.2 percent ABV). Despite that high gravity, there is very little to no heat from the alcohol content, which speaks to the proficiency in brewing and fermenting done at Elk Valley Brewing.
I have always felt as though Elk Valley Brewing is very good at what they do, and this beer is another example of their brewing prowess. Magic Juice is a beer that is a great example of this burgeoning NEIPA style and would be a great gateway beer for those folks out there who say they hate hoppy beers. The beer is easy to drink and it definitely came to party (again, see 8.2 percent ABV) so be careful with this beverage and enjoy responsibly, because this is the kind of beer that could easily sneak up on you if you are not careful.