Saturday, April 22, 2017

Beer Art

 Karben4 out of Madison, WI may just have the greatest label of all time with their Fantasy Factory IPA, and the beer's not bad either.  I've heard a lot about this beer, some true, some not.  This beer falls into the hype category.  People have been saying it's super juicy and talking like it's a NE IPA.  It's not.  What it is, is malt heavy, wonderfully balanced with the hop bitterness, and a fantastic citrus aroma.  This beer was not at all what I was expecting from all the "juicy" descriptions I've read about it.  That being said it is a fantastic IPA that I would buy again and again.  Before NE IPA's came around this is exactly what I would search for in an IPA.  I'm glad I have family in Madison so I can get fresh Fantasy Factory on a regular basis.  Cheers Karben4!!  Nice work.
 A few more first time beers for me (also with great can art) come from Chicago's Pipeworks Brewing.  Thanks to Rick and Lisa for muling me these great beers.  The two most hyped beers are Ninja Vs. Unicorn, and the Mosiac hopped Lizard King.  This is where I'll start.

Mosiac hops may just be the greatest smelling aroma hop there is.  Citrus fruit explodes your senses when you take that first smell (yes, I'm a nerd that smells my beer.)  The great thing about Mosiacs is that they taste like they smell, and there's another citrus fruit explosion when you have that first drink.  After the first few drinks however, that's where single hop Mosiac beers loose me.  The "juicy," fruity flavors subdue and a musty, earthiness of the hops take over tasting like dirty gym socks.  Strange to say that's not necessarily a bad thing, but can get a little overwhemling.  So, for me, I like Mosiac hops, but I prefer them to be blended with other hops to help alleviate some of those musty flavors.  Don't get me wrong, this is still a great beer, and I know there are a ton of people out there that love single hop Mosiac beers.  So, if you're one of those people, you should definitely try this beer.
 Ninja Vs. Unicorn is my clear winner between these two Pipeworks beers.  This Double Pal Ale has more citrus flavor and a little less malt and bitterness that Karben4's Fantasy Factory, while still being incredibly well balanced.  It doesn't have quite the citrus aroma as the two beers above, but it makes up for it by being a  well rounded brew.  This is a dangerously "crushable" Pale Ale.  The danger being it's a Double Pale Ale weighing in at 9% ABV, but drinks like a 5% ABV beer.

I love this beer, and will absolutely be buying more whenever I have the chance.  It was so good, just writing about it makes me want to have another!  This is crazy to me, I've tried beers from two different breweries that actually live up to the hype around them.  That really doesn't happen very often.  Great work Pipeworks,  keep churning out these fantastic beers.  And kudos to your can designers on the great labels.
When you talk about well hyped beers, you can't leave out Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stouts (BCBS.)  The pinnacle of the BCBS line is their Rare, This version of BCBS is aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels for two years before being released.  This is a bottle of 2015 Rare that I've cellared for over a year.  So when my good friend Pat came to town, we took it to Decorah to share with some of my favorite brewers at Pulpit Rock.

First let me say this.  It is a fantastic barrel aged stout.  It's a thick, syrupy, dark beer with sweetness, roasted flavor, and well balanced with the bourbon.  I would buy this beer again, for $10-15 dollars, not for the $60-70 they sell it for.  It's not worth that much.  Too be honest, there's not much difference from the normal BCBS that you can easily buy for $10. This is a beer that has been hyped up for no reason in my opinion.  Yes it's a great beer, and you should try it if you don't pay full price for it, but there are plenty of great barrel aged stouts on the market for a third or even a sixth of the price!
Luckily I was able to share that beer and several others with Pat, and brewers from Pulpit Rock, Mike, Justin, and Bob.  The two things I love about visiting Pulpit Rock is their amazing beer, and getting to see the brewers.  These guys are great, and I consider myself lucky to call them my friends.

I'm also lucky to drink IPA's like Mr. Hoppy Pants (shown to the left.)  I would put their Double IPA's (and many of their other beers) against any brewery in the country, and they will hold their own.  Pat, whose not a big IPA fan loves coming here for the Double IPA's.  Last time it was To Hop and To Hold (let's hope Justin doesn't have to get remarried for them to brew it again,) this time Mr. Hoppy Pants.

I also want to say congratulations to Pulpit Rock on having Saftig being named one of the best beers in America by Men's Journal.  This is a well deserved distinction for them.  While I didn't have any Saftig that day, I did bring home a few crowlers to enjoy.

One last thing I want to mention quickly is Des Moines Beer Week starting June 16th.
I went to the beer fest last year (see earlier entry) and had a blast.  Check out the website so you don't miss out on the fun!

It looks like spring is here, and I now have some great patio beers to enjoy.  What are some of your favorite nice weather beers.  Comment below or on Twitter @Crinkletalk

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