SpaceX’s “jumps in orbit” landed in an IPA. This is the taste of beer

Samuel Adams’ special Space Craft IPA release uses hops that flew into orbit.

Amanda Kooser / CNET

Just had the closest thing to an otherworldly Star Trek Romulan beer that I will probably ever drink. Space Craft IPA by Samuel Adams is a beer with a twist: it’s made from “hops in orbit”.

When the private astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon Inspiration4 Mission circled the earth in September, they were not alone. The payload included 66 pounds (30 kilograms) of Citra and Mosaic hops (two classic choices for IPAs). In return for the hops, Samuel Adams pledged $ 100,000 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital as part of the mission fundraiser.

The special version of Space Craft is only available in the Samuel Adams Brewery and Faucet Room in Boston.

I am a craft beer enthusiast, frequent my local breweries and am ready to try anything from vinegar beers to French mustard beer. I’ve tasted a lot of IPA, but it’s not my favorite style, so I appealed to the most experienced (and toughest) IPA reviewer I know, my mom.

Samuel Adams gives this description of the West Coast-style spaceship: “Firm bitterness, with generous tropical notes of grapefruit, guava and passion fruit co-piloting classic aromas of pine and resinous hops.” Our verdict? It is quite precise.

IPA pours a slightly hazy golden honey color and delivers a sweet nose that my mom describes as “diffuse honeysuckle”. The grapefruit notes stand out and the finish is dry. My mom calls it “a very decent IPA” which is “typical of the west coast,” a style that tends towards bold bitterness and pine. At 50 IBUs, Space Craft is sweeter than some of the super bitter IPA options.

Samuel Adams’ spacecraft looks pretty orbital from here.

Amanda Kooser / CNET

But you really want to know if we can taste the space. We can not. I would never guess that the jumps in Space Craft had been in orbit.

We have already seen Scotch whiskey space, which, according to experts, tasted quite different from its earthly counterpart. But beer is another animal. Hops are just one ingredient in a recipe that also calls for yeast, malt, and water.

As business opportunities continue to open up in space, we can expect more food and drink products that clearly have a space component. Sometimes orbital travel can make a difference in flavor. Sometimes it will be mostly a marketing hook.

If Samuel Adam’s spaceship is just marketing, I’m okay with that. There is always something touching about holding a can in my hand and knowing that a small piece of its contents has circled the planet far, far above me.

From spirited launch to fast orbit to thrilling landing, these IPA jumps have lived a life I’ll probably never know. With my feet on the ground and glass in hand, I am a little more connected to human space exploration. Cheers.

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