Battle of the Resilience IPAs: Bierly Brewing vs. Eckert Brewing
The Resilience IPA
A Good Beer For A Good Cause
The Resilience IPA is more than just a beer. It’s a powerful social movement within the beer industry, spearheaded by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. This charitable collaboration followed the 2018 fire season, during which the infamous Camp Fire completely destroyed a town in Northern California. Ironically, the town was named Paradise and was home to over 27,000 people. As Paradise was burning to the ground, the Camp Fire quickly became the most deadly fire in the state’s history.
The fire scorched over 153,000 acres and took the lives of almost 90 people. It claimed 18,804 structures, roughly 14,000 of which were residences. It was a devastating natural disaster felt throughout the entire west coast. And then breweries began stepping up to help.
Sierra Nevada is based in Chico California (within the fire’s reach), as is Eckert Malting and Brewing, by the way. Sierra Nevada decided to brew a special beer called Resilience Butte County Proud IPA and donate 100% of the proceeds to a Camp Fire Relief Fund. The fund was started by Sierra Nevada. It exists to support the victims of the fire, and to assist in the community’s reconstruction.
Sierra Nevada made the recipe public and called on other breweries to join the effort. Roughly 1500 breweries stepped up to brew for a good cause, including a couple dedicated gluten free breweries who brewed gluten free versions of the Resilience IPA. Both Bierly Brewing and Eckert Malting & Brewing (who were on the edge of the fire themselves) stepped up to the plate and donated 100% of the proceeds to the fire fund.
I got my hands on one Resilience IPA from each brewery and we’ll be tasting them both today. I decided to review them together, since they came from the same original recipe, but the grain bill was modified individually by the brewers. A big thanks to both Bierly and Eckert for getting behind a good cause and for representing the gluten free beer industry!
Check out this short clip of JP Bierly introducing the (gluten free) Resilience IPA…(Sorry about the background noise. We were at the GF homebrew club’s anniversary party!)
The Taste Tests: Resilience IPA
Bierly Brewing vs. Eckert Malting and Brewing
First off, the bottles for both these beers are rather unremarkable, because they were mainly brewed for draft and I’m not sure either of the breweries packaged this beer for distribution. I’ve got a 16 ounce bottle of Bierly’s and a 12 ounce bottles of Eckert’s.
The pours were very different from one another. The Eckert IPA poured headless and had a prominent hazy quality, whereas the Bierly IPA poured clear and with a boisterous head. They both have the same golden orange color, but they display a bit differently due to the obscurity factor and the way it plays with the light.
I will note though, that as I stare close at these two beers, they both seem to have healthy carbonation. Even the Eckert one that didn’t foam as much has a steady stream of bubbles flooding to the top of the glass, even several minutes after the pour. It’s just more visible on the Bierly brew because of the higher clarity.
The aroma is similar between the two, but I’m picking up more hops in the Eckert beer, and more sweetness in the Bierly beer, scent-wise. The Bierly IPA still has a thin head sitting on the beer, even 4 paragraphs in. ;)
Let’s start with the Eckert. The texture is crisp and strongly carbonated. The taste is quite sweet, fairly bright, and piney. It’s very malt-forward and heavy in caramel notes. The malt body is rich and is certainly present from the beginning, but there’s floral qualities sprinkled throughout as well. This beer was brewed exclusively with gluten free rice malts (malted in house!).
It has a very enjoyable transformation of bitterness from the first taste to the back of the throat, and it lingers substantially. It’s quite good. Lots of character and packed full of flavor.
Now let’s taste the Bierly. Ironically, while this one had a slightly sweeter aroma to me, it is much less sweet and a bit more dry in taste than the Eckert is. It’s also a bit–smoother…in texture. The dryness coats your mouth a bit the way a witbier can.
The malt body is gentler and a bit more balanced with the flavors of the hops. The presence of the bitterness isn’t as demanding, and I almost feel like the bitterness is more in the background as the more fruity hop notes shine through. This beer was brewed with a combination of millet and rice malts.
It became clear to me after pouring the last 4 ounces of Bierly IPA into the glass, that I didn’t agitate it before the pour. If I had, it likely would have been more hazy, like the Eckert IPA, because the smaller pour was so cloudy and different in color that it didn’t even faintly resemble the first pour. There was a lot of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Also, the Eckert settled out over time and became more clear–but certainly not AS clear–as the Bierly.
Overall, I think they’re both great IPAs. They’re just different. The malts aren’t the only factor here…the brewing application, the equipment, the climate…so many factors play a part of the creation process.
Both Eckert Malting and Brewing and Bierly Brewing did a fantastic job at brewing gluten free Resilience IPAs. For those of you who prefer smoother beers with milder bitterness, I would recommend the Bierly Brewing Resilience IPA. But if you like rich beers and you always order the most bitter thing on the menu, perhaps give the Eckert Malting and Brewing Resilience IPA a try.
I think they both did a great job, that yielded slightly different beers. Personally, I would happily drink either one of these IPAs again, and not just for the cause…because they’re both delicious in their own unique way.