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Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Local craft beer of the week: IRMA IPA from Green Bench Brewing

Breweries set a good example in the days leading up to Hurricane Irma's landfall in Florida. When grocery stores and gas stations couldn't keep bottled water in stock, breweries offered clean drinking water for free — just bring your own container.

After the hurricane, four bay area brewers — Khris Johnson of Green Bench, Casey Hughes of Coppertail, Justin Stange of 7venth Sun and Eric Trinoskey of Cycle and Orange Belt — got together and brewed an IPA made entirely from donated supplies, from the malt and hops down to the canning line. Enough surplus stock was donated to allow three other Florida breweries — Civil Society, Intuition and MIA — to brew their own versions of the beer, as well.

The beer's name, IRMA, is an acronym for the hop varieties found in the IPA. There's Idaho 7, a newer variety that hit the market in 2017, providing resiny pine notes alongside a classic grapefruit aroma. There's Rakau, a very fruity but also bitter variety from New Zealand. Mosaic, of course, is the ever-popular dual-purpose hop that provides a variety of tropical fruit flavors. And finally, there's Amarillo, arguably the quintessential citrus-forward hop.

IRMA, like Green Bench's Plug & Play IPA series, is brewed exclusively with pilsner malt, providing a light and highly thirst-quenching backdrop for showcasing its namesake hops.

The beer pours straw yellow and is richly aromatic — a product of an intense double dry-hopping schedule of all four hops at a ratio of three pounds per barrel. The bitterness is restrained (its 55 IBUs aren't extreme in this 6.5 percent alcohol by volume brew), adding a crisp, dry bitterness while still allowing the juicy, fruit flavors to develop in the background.

IRMA is a true not-for-profit beer. It's made from donated ingredients and supplies, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Feeding Florida, a statewide network of food banks providing hurricane relief to areas affected by Hurricane Irma. Six-packs are available for $10 each in St. Petersburg at Green Bench's tasting room (1133 Baum Ave N); IRMA is also on draft at Green Bench, 7venth Sun's Dunedin and Seminole Heights locations and Coppertail in Ybor City.

— Justin Grant

Have a suggestion for the Local Craft Beer of the Week? Brewers, have a limited release coming that we should know about? Email jg@saintbeat.com.

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