by Wayne Waananen, Station 26 Head Brewer
Amidst the hazy IPA craze, and our own Milkshake IPA series here at Station 26, we recently jumped on an opportunity to take a step (or couple decades) back and brew an old-school IPA.
Vail Pale Ale is that beer, brewed in collaboration with Wynkoop Brewing Co. It uses all “‘90s style” ingredients, including Rahr Pale Malt, Centennial and Cascade hops (cutting edge stuff 22 years ago), and Ringwood Ale yeast, an English strain that ferments very fast and drops out of suspension quickly.
A little bit of history on the beer and why the opportunity to make it again was special to myself and Station 26:
I first brewed this beer as a “Solstice Ale” in spring 1992 at the Hubcap Brewery and Kitchen in Vail, during the mud season when the brewery slowed down a bit. I very loosely based the beer on Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, which was their only IPA and available around Christmastime in the early '90s. I mostly brewed it for myself, but if others liked it, well and good.
It turned out to be a very popular brew at that location, winning a gold medal at the 1992 GABF. It won again in 1994 when the name was changed to Vail Pale Ale. With the success the Hubcap was having in Vail, I had an opportunity to head down to Dallas to help train brewers on the beers we made for a new location. Those brewers took the Vail Pale Ale recipe and won its third gold medal at the 1995 GABF, after I had left the original Hubcap.
Twenty-two years later and I am at Station 26, where I am introduced to the latest in a long line of head brewers at Wynkoop Brewing Company. As it turns out, he is one of the brewers I worked with in opening the new Hubcap location in Dallas. We decided we needed to bring the Vail Pale Ale back.
I have always had a special friendship with Wynkoop and owe a lot to them in my brewing career. Russ Schrerer, Wynkoop’s first head brewer, is a very good friend of mine and homebrew club partner. Russ helped me land that first brewing job at Hubcap, so the opportunity to make Vail Pale Ale at Wynkoop in 2018 was a very fun and wonderful closing of a circle for my brewing life.
Lots has changed in the brewing world. To be rolling out a old-school IPA and a Passionfruit Milkshake IPA in a week-long span is not something I foresaw 20 years ago. While it’s been fun and interesting going along with all of the changes, it’s also a nice and comfortable throwback to brew a classic ‘90s beer that came along when IPAs were barely on the map.
Station 26 is a brewery that tries to be For You, For All - so brewing beers of both an old and new style is something we’ll try and do, given the opportunity. If we can do our best to stay on top of what craft beer lovers want, while also being cognizant of the history of craft beer styles and appreciative of what came before, why not be the kind of brewery that does both?
Thanks to Wynkoop for the collaboration and use of their space. I hope you enjoy the Vail Pale Ale as much as I enjoyed making it again.