There is a style of beer called a milkshake IPA. Yes, this is a real thing.

At first glance, I could see how some folks might be a bit repulsed by the idea. The idea of milk and beer together sounds kind of gross. A pale lager and cow juice just don’t sound like they should be in the same glass.

This isn’t a new phenomena, however. You just need the right type of beer.

Think about stouts. They’re dark and roasty. More so than that, they’re also generally creamy. Milk stouts have been around a while. Take that just a little further and get yourself a nice chocolate stout and drop a scoop of ice cream in it. The beer float is really something special. Once you have one, the thought of beer and frozen confections makes a lot more sense.

“But wait a minute, James,” you may say. “A milkshake IPA isn’t a stout; it’s an IPA! That can’t possibly be good, can it? All that bitter with all that milk?”

I bid thee, friend, slow thine roll. You’re thinking about this all wrong. IPAs have moved past their bitter roots to become something more. Yes, you can still find the classic, aggressive, bitter IPA, but that’s just one shade in the IPA rainbow. New England IPAs focus more on the juiciness of the hops, often showcasing their citrus notes. If this still isn’t making sense to you, I have two words: Orange Julius.

This week, I’m drinking Southern Tier Brewing Co.’s Vanilla Whip IPA. Southern Tier has long had a reputation of doing remarkable things with dessert beers. To this day, I don’t know that I’ve had a pumpkin beer that I enjoy more. And its Creme Brulee Stout? Let’s not even talk about it. That brew is an incredibly rich and decadent experience.

Southern Tier hasn’t rested on its laurels, however. In recent years, it has explored all kinds of styles and been quite prolific. Between Goses and New England IPAs, its brews explore all kinds of flavor profiles and are rife with nuance. I was quite curious where this one would land on that spectrum. For me, there weren’t really any wrong answers.

A good two fingers or more of nice white foam topped the pour. This IPA definitely leaned more toward the New England side of things, with a quite hazy-looking liquid with an orange tinge. The scent carried notes of orange, vanilla and cream with not much else coming through. Lactose covered up any scent of hops.

It had a fantastic taste full of orange, cream and vanilla, just like the scent promised. Unlike the scent, though, it didn’t stop there. After the swallow, that dry New England IPA made itself known, imparting a lingering dryness on the tongue and a hint of aspirin. A spot of bitter made everything else that much better through its contrast. This could have just been a rich dessert beer, but those dry IPA notes made it something more and added a level of sophistication I wasn’t sure I’d get.

Don’t fear the milkshake IPA. Yes, it might sound scary. If you don’t trust me, you should trust Southern Tier. It’ll never steer you wrong.