Tag Archives: citrus

Rogue Brutal IPA

Rogue Ales need no introduction. They haunt the United States like a spectre, appearing here, there and everywhere, dominating conversations, elbowing out Barbarians, Bards and Wizards with beard yeast, peanut butter beers and Brutal IPAs.

This 6.3% beer, which must be Rogue’s 250th variety of IPA, is a lusciously luminescent mandarin colour with moderate head and carbonation. It reeks of citrus, orange muscling in over pineapple and sweet sugar syrup. It’s smooth, thick and tannic, with a big bitter bite backing up a deliciously warm, gluggy brioche malt cocktail. Hop flavour peeks out here and there but the blanket of malt wins out. Nice.

I bought a pint of this beer at Rossi’s Bar, Chicago, IL. This tiny place had possibly the blandest bartender I’ve ever encountered, tinged with an edge of seething hostility. Quite something. Definitely affected how the beer tasted and the atmosphere as a whole, which I didn’t mind really as I was only stopping in. So much for the friendly Midwest!

Kona Big Wave Golden Ale

The Kona Brewing Company is a Hawaiian brewery, originally a family-run operation, and the beer in this post has pedigree, going all the way back to 1995. The fact that a Hawaiian beer is being served by keg in Minnesota does jar a little: they brew substantially on the mainland, though will always call “The Big Island” home. Operations go on in Portland, Oregon, Woodinville, Washington, Memphis, Tennessee, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

This Golden Ale rests peacefully in the glass, straw-gold yellow, completely sans head but quite carbonated. The aroma is characterised by hops, hops and more hops: equal parts pineapple slam, grapefruit crush and deliciously tart citrus. Underneath, the headless ale is dry, thin and spritzy, but this does nothing to help the flat, insipid flavours. Apple and malt shake coexist at low levels with an equally marginal bitterness.

It’s drinkable and fault-free but hardly a winner.

I had a pint of this uninspiring draught beer at Port 104 Bar-Grill and Bowling, Lake City, Minnesota. It was a fairly done-up family-style bar with bowling lanes, a pool table, lots of seating and early closing hours. Lake City is not exactly a drink-party town; more a wholesome-party town. But I am getting old so that’s fine with me.

Piece Brewery Kick the Tires IPA

The Piece Brewpub has been around for a while and serves up absolutely huge pizzas with small-batch beers. Although small batch, the line-up is pretty regular; but not too heavy on the lagers or IPAs, which is unusual for brewpubs like this in the U.S.A.

The brewpub itself is wide open and comfortable with only thirteen flat screen TVs, truly a paucity. All the fancy fermentors are in a side room and friendly bar staff work hard among the banjo music and baseball.

I ordered the only IPA on the menu and it comes sitting in a chilled tulip glass in colours of robust mahogany and copper. Clarity is entire. The aroma is general citrus, caramel malts, very sweet and dangerous. It’s not a big bold bouquet of hops, rather sweet, steady smells of mango and toffee win out. The mouthfeel is medium, delivering a great big dry finish, but one that keeps a little pancake with it, a little malt overtone. It’s very fizzy on the tongue, right through.

The sparkling finish carries over fresh resin hop flavour and a bitter backbone. It’s not quiet East or West Coast IPA but somewhere in between – fitting for a Chicago brew. Drinking this IPA after walking ten kilometres on a warm, wet, windy autumn day, I couldn’t help but be satisfied. It’s a bog standard IPA with a higher than normal ABV, which is fine by me.

I drank this 7.5% ABV draught beer at the Piece Brewery and Pizzeria in Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois.

Goose Island Blue Line Pils

I wasn’t planning to but thought I should try another Goose Island beer given I was visiting Chicago, the erstwhile (provenance 1988/1995) brewery’s home.

Goose Island of course was one of the first U.S. big craft offerings to get bought up and go macro, but I didn’t see any resistance across the city – except in the quite boutique bottle shops. These were frustrating to shop in thanks to Illinois’ liquor laws – you can’t split four and six-packs of most beers, meaning there’s no mixed sixers as are so common in Australia and elsewhere.

I wandered into a pub with prominent real estate on a warm 28 degree day and chose the pilsner.

To sum up before detailing, this is a very decent lager. It had “limited release” last year, playing the scarcity drawcard, but seems to be everywhere in autumn 2016. The aroma is lemony spice, all hops. It looks a clear straw with ruffling waves of tight bubbles, not too fizzy but ongoing retention. A medium-thin texture presents lovely, smooth but subdued grainy flavour puckering into a dry zesty finish.

The yeast is keeping everything under control here. It’s a restrained, tight beer; drinkable lemon/lime scone flavour with a sour juice chaser.

I drank this 4.8% ABV draught beer at the Wicker Park Tavern, Wicker Park, Chicago, Illinois. It’s a fairly staid sports bar on a busy corner. I counted ten televisions, each at least about a metre wide, all showing sport. So. Much. Sport. The music was horrible. Somehow though, perhaps because of the warm weather and quiet time of day, it still had a good vibe.