Entrenched IPA

Image courtesy of Gordon O’Keefe

More hazy IPAs people, it’s the wave of the future.  Entrenched IPA from Alarmist Brewing Company, 4055 West Peterson Avenue, Chicago, IL, is a deep gold IPA with a lacey, fluffy head that leaves patterns reminiscent of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave” on the sides of your official Alarmist glassware.  Pine and malt greet the olfactory nerves as part of a clean smelling bouquet that hides its citrus notes like a 5th grade reprobate named Billy hides a bad report card from his mother.  Entrenched has a full mouthfeel but it’s not heavy, and it carries a punch-in-the-chops of hops.  Bitterness is not overplayed, but prominent for sure.  This is a very satisfying beer from a Chicago brewery.

Be sure to visit the taproom at Alarmist.  Some of the nicest bartenders you’ll meet, too.  The atmosphere is very inviting, and your dog is welcome.  This taproom is not overdone and doesn’t try too hard to appear super hip or trendy, it’s just a solid brewery and taproom with solid products.  I wish I lived closer, but never-the-less, I’ve managed to get there twice in two months and look forward to my next visit!

Drink local, don’t give AB InBev any of your hard-earned dough.


Golden Nugget IPA

Image courtesy of France 44 Liquors, Inc.

Hazy and dark yellow/light orange in color, Golden Nugget IPA from Toppling Goliath, Deborah, IA, is a fragrant and tasty addition to the ever-expanding and probably overpopulated roster of American made IPAs.  This is one of the good ones.  Once the sticky head evens out into a persistent 1/8″ thick splotchy film you can get a good does of the bouquet, which is super malty with some grassy notes, and no alcohol whiffs despite being 6.8% ABV.  This firm-bodied, substantial IPA is assertive but not overbearing.  Malty for sure, but the happiness quickly eclipses any sweetness with pine essence and dryness.  Kind of like a 105 degree day at the base of Devil’s Tower, but refreshing.  The mildly bitter finish is a long-lasting souvenir of a trip down IPA lane.  Not as memorable as Pseudo Sue, as far as Toppling Goliath beers are concerned, but worth a try for the IPA lover.

90/100 IPA

Belt and Suspenders India Pale Ale

Image courtesy of beer syndicate.com

Image courtesy of beer syndicate.com

Good packaging design sells.  It attracts attention and stirs interest.  Buckledown Brewing of Lyons, IL knows that, and when good packaging design and great beer get together, you get Belt and Suspenderts India Pale Ale.  I was attracted by the label, saw that a local brewery was responsible for it and I was sold.  Belt & Suspenders is a beauty;  amber with a generous, frothy head and super-sticky lacing.  This 7% ABV (you can smell it) IPA has low carbonation but that doesn’t stop it from being bright and lively on the tongue.  The bouquet is piney and malty, and the alcohol again makes it presence known.  There’s a little hint of earthiness and maybe rust, too.  In a good way.  Belt and Suspenders is full-bodied but not heavy, with a smooth round mouthfeel.  It’s a substantial beer, but don’t be intimidated.  The sweetness of the malt helps balance the hoppiness, but let’s face it, the hops should and do win here.  The finish is gut-warming and a bit dry, and there’s a vibe, something I can’t quite put my finger on, that reminds me of long-defunct Chicago Brewing Company’s Legacy Lager, the beer that made me fall in love with local craft brew.

Well done Buckledown, I look forward to visiting your taproom  soon.  Who’s in?

Ypsi Gypsi

Ypsi Gypsi (Arbor Brewing Company, Ypsilanti, MI) has a huge, fluffy, white head, is hazy but not particulate and wafts great whiffs of pine and orange blossom.  Brussels lace coats the glass in great, sticky globs.  The presentation is really nice, as it could be a photo in an advert due to its perfect beauty.  There’s a noticeably good malt presence right off the bat, and not as much pine in the taste as you have been led to believe.  It’s a little more floral with a mild sweetness and a hint of dryness.  The sweetness lingers long enough to counteract the bitterness, which eventually subsides.  Crisp and clean.  The label is interesting, bordering on creepy, having a gypsy woman with an illustrative body and a photoshopped face (I think).  Almost like the artist has a weird obsession with a girl he can never have, and he has put her face in any number of fantasy settings (Princess Leia the slave girl, Lt. Uhuru, sexy Helen Keller, Oktoberfest waitress minotaur, you name it) to help stave off the hunger that can never be satisfied.  I’ve never done anything like this.  Nope.  Not me.


Image courtesy of Arbor Brewing Company

Technically this is an American Pale Ale, but the high hop content made the brewers think of it as a session IPA.  I think it’s a bit understated as an IPA, by today’s standards.  At 4.9% ABV you can certainly enjoy a few without feeling too loopy. However, the Gypsy girl will become more attractive with each successive bottle.

Dragonfly IPA

Image courtesy of Upland Brewing Company.

Image courtesy of Upland Brewing Company.

Dragonfly IPA (Upland Brewing Company, Bloomington, IN, Midwest) pours a lovely honey gold, has carbonation galore, a generous head, and oodles of residual lace that looks like strata of the earth as the level of beer drops one mouthful at a time.  The bouquet is on the floral side of hoppy with some pine and an earthy yeastiness.  Wow, taste that caramel malt!  Dragonfly is full-bodied and when that mouthful is gone there remains a bitterness (65 IBUs) that harkens back to the hops vibe in the bouquet.  This IPA really sets off the salivary glands, too.  There’s a touch of grapefruit rind in the flavor profile that is refreshing.  Dragonfly is 6.7% ABV, and to me that is about the perfect strength for just about any beer.  Yay Upland, yay drinking regional!

My cousin Martha introduced me to Upland, and for that I’m truly grateful!  (Her husband Mike drinks Zima)

91/100 IPA

Flipside Red IPA

Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

This one is appropriately named, being very red in color with a healthy dose of carbonation.  Flipside Red IPA (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA and Mills River, NC) presents a foamy beige head on initial pour and whiffs of a soapy, floral, fruity bouquet waft your way.  At first 6.2% ABV Flipside is dry and bitter on the tongue, but soon some fruit sweetness makes its presence known.  There are Simcoe, Centennial and Citra hops used here, so the interesting bouquet is no surprise.  What is a surprise is that Flipside is a bit thin-bodied and there’s really not a lot to it.  I’ve read some sparkling reviews about Flipside, but I just didn’t feel the earth move the way I like.

And I had such high hopes.

65/100 IPA

Diabolical India Pale Ale

Image courtesy of North Peak Brewing Company

Image courtesy of North Peak Brewing Company

OK, more IPA.  I feel all Brokeback “I wish I could quit you” when it comes to IPAs, but I guess I should admit it.  I like IPAs.  And pretty much everything else but Bud.  Diabolical India Pale Ale from North Peak Brewing Company in Traverse City, MI is honey-orange in color with a peachy cast to it, and it makes a nice gooey head and tons of lace in your glass.  The bouquet is piney, perfumey and citrusy with a deep-down earthy malt foundation.  It’s medium bodied, rich, sweet and leaves you with a bitter reminder in the back of your throat.  (your Brokeback joke goes here)  It’s a 6.66% ABV and 66.6 IBUs (now that’s diabolical!) and it really tastes like a small batch craft brew.  I had one at their tap room and also bought some in Ludington, MI at a Meijer’s, and I’m not sure I’ve seen it in the Chicago area.  The bottle shape and label also really appeals to me.  Reminds me of post-Mounty Drewery’s bottles in some way I guess.  All in all a pretty decent IPA.

82/100 IPA