I spent an hour searching the shelves of my local beer store yesterday. It’s a lovely store, don’t get me wrong. They play nice music and the people are friendly, but an hour is too much time to pick out a sixer of beer. There are just so many choices now. I stare at the big wall of cans and bottles and bombers and tall boys and all of these really clever hop puns and labels with sexy kittens on them and I get a little dizzy. It’s overwhelming. It’s a problem. It’s a good problem, but it’s a problem.

After sifting through God knows how many cans, I decided on a six of Red Clay IPA from Sunken City Brewing, largely because I’ve never heard of them before and it’s kind of my job to try new beer. Sometimes it backfires—one time I tried a smoked porter from a Western brewery that shall remain nameless that tasted like cigarette ash. I’ve never actually had cigarette ash before, but in my mind it’s chalky and burning, just like that God-awful beer.

Luckily, Red Clay IPA is not reminiscent of cigarette ash.

Sunken City Brewing Company is a relatively brand new 25-barrel operation near Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. They opened last Spring. Their Red Clay IPA is billed as an “aggressive” IPA, but honestly, I found it to be refreshingly mellow, with a rich, almost creamy mouthfeel and a malt presence that blew my mind. There was still citrus and a bit of hop zest, but it was almost as if the hops were playing second fiddle to the malt bill, which is an inverted approach to the American IPA. It’s a beautiful balancing act. And it was the perfect beer to pair with an afternoon Nerf gun war between my kids and a couple of their friends. Because this is the beauty of being a stay at home dad. You get to stand in your kitchen drinking new beer while shooting foam darts at a bunch of six-year-olds. That’s a hell of a Thursday.