Style: Northeast-style IPA / ABV: 6.9 percent
Most music fans will inevitably hear their favorite band say something like, "We're finally making the record that we want to hear," and more often than not, the result is either pompous and unbearable or overtly populist and pandering. But every now and then, this calculated approach yields greatness, and the desire of the artists and the masses align.
Listening to Ruse brewer Devin Benware describe Imaginary Lines, an impossibly soft and juicy hazy IPA recently released by the brewery he co-founded in 2015 with Shaun Kalis, it's easy to draw parallels between the world of craft brewing and indie rock in this regard.
"We literally designed this beer around what everyone [at Ruse] wants and likes," says Benware. "It's our greatest hits of hazy ingredients."
Few duos have hit the ground running as quickly as Benware and Kalis. They launched Ruse in a rather unique way: When not brewing for Tomas Sluiter at Culmination Brewing, whom they originally worked under at the Old Market Pub & Brewery in Multnomah Village, they used tanks there to make beer for their own brand. Once the two moved into their own facility in 2018, Ruse received immediate praise for its consistently approachable takes on IPAs.
When it comes to crafting hazys, Benware and Kalis start most batches with a base of Citra and Mosaic hops, reliable go-tos prized for their juicy, tropical and floral characteristics. With Imaginary Lines, they chose to throw in some Stratas to push the berry flavors even further to the front. Benware also pressed for the addition of oats to the grain base to give the fruit notes an added boost. The result is a smooth, clean IPA with a silky mouthfeel and citrus finish. It's not only the beer they want to drink; Imaginary Lines is exactly what the market demands right now as well, helping to solidify Ruse's status as one of the best breweries in town.
"We're just trying to make beer we like, that we know other people will like," says Benware. "[Imaginary Lines] is a pretty predictable beer as we see it."