By Travis Hiller
America. What a beautiful country. She’s the land of liberty. She’s the land of abundance. Let’s not forget that America the Beautiful is also the land of some great brews. But what makes beer American? Is it the ingredients? Is it the style? Is it the hard work, ingenuity or values behind the beer? Quite honestly, I think it’s a combination of all of the above. With the 4th of July on the horizon, I think it’s time to give it some though. In this article, I explore what makes a beer “American,” and also what might be worth picking up to celebrate our country’s independence.
Dos Osos (American IPA) – Revolution Brewing Company and Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
As Chicago residents, we’re all familiar with the great work that goes down at in our backyard at Revolution Brewing. Naturally, it makes sense to start local. Dos Osos pours a hazy orange with a lingering white head. The aroma is of lemons, with peaches plenty of floral notes as well. Each sip is permeated with additional floral hop flavors mixed with lemon, backed up with mild yet discernible malts. Finishes bitter, and lingers on the tongue. It certainly lives up to Revolution Brewing’s reputation, and is certainly worth picking up while you still can.
But what makes this beer truly American? It’s simple. Though sold here under RevBrew’s logo, the ever-so-conspicuous lion and bear indicate that this beer wasn’t produced by Revolution alone. Rather, a collaboration between brewers Dustin Kral and Jim Cibak produced this west coast beauty. Not only are collaboration brews one of many new trends in American craft beer right now, but the spirit of collaboration has remained important to country since its founding. After all, we mustn’t forget that we utilized the help of the French navy when throwing off the yoke of British tyranny, and only with allies could we have stood up to Nazi oppression in the world! If collaboration ain’t American, I don’t know what is!
Founders Devil Dancer (American Double/Imperial IPA) – Founders Brewing Company
This seasonal hop-bomb pours a deep red with rapidly fading white head. The aroma is extremely boozy (not surprising, this bad boy is 12% ABV) and very malty, backed up with plenty of caramel that mingles with hoppy bitterness. Flavor is at first sweet, but then incorporates an added dimension of bitterness. Hot with booze throughout, the lingering aftertastes maintains extreme bitterness, but also more subtle caramel notes.
Like more and more of American beers of the modern era, Devil Dancer is an example of what happens when a brewer pushes the envelope. Americans are constant innovators, and the field of beer is no different. Founders’ master brewers eventually created this “Triple IPA” as a result of twenty-six days of dry-hopping with over ten hop varieties. Fearless in their pursuit of greatness, they showed the craft beer world what can happen when Americans put their minds to creating something big, bold, and in this case, delicious. Beware, this is only a seasonal beer, so pick it up while you still can!
Sam Vs. Unicorn (American Amber/Red Ale) – Pipeworks Brewing Company
I’m pretty sure we can all agree that Chicago’s Pipeworks Brewing Company, still a relative newcomer to craft brewing, has left its mark on the local beer scene with its outrageous beers and even more outrageous label art. In that sense, Sam Vs. Unicorn, and in-yo-face American red ale, certainly does not disappoint. Pouring deep red with white head, the aroma is extremely piney, with very mild hints of caramel malts in the background. It tastes like raw pine sap, but certainly not in a bad way. Rather, hints of lemon and the same malty, caramel backbone present in the aroma make this beer not only drinkable, but quite enjoyable.
All I can say is that this beer puts the “Red” in “Red, White, and Blue.” Pipeworks is very up front about this beer’s purpose; it is to be consumed while enjoying life, liberty, and semi-controlled explosions on our nation’s birthday. I don’t know about you, but that sounds great to me!
Space Station Middle Finger (American Pale Ale) – Three Floyds Brewing Company
For all of you avid Man-B-Que readers out there, please don’t let the topic of my last article (Three Floyds) discourage you from picking up a bottle of this American treasure, formerly available only on draft at the Brewpub in Munster, IN. Pouring a hazy orange, this beer’s aroma contains hefty amounts of lemongrass and pepper, tempered with subtle infusions of orange and pineapple. Pineapple takes over in the flavor, along with bitter hops and white pepper. The finish is bitter and lingering, just like the taste in Leonid Brezhnev’s mouth when Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the surface of the moon in good old ’69.
All I have to ask you is, who won the Space Race anyway? That’s right, America did! And while I may be taking liberties (pun intended) with my interpretation of this beer’s purpose and label art, I’d like to think that this is Three Floyds’ way of giving all of those people who can’t stand America’s greatness a great big middle finger…from space!
And there you have it. I would advise every reader to pick these beers up at your local bottle shop and enjoy them on America’s birthday, or really at any gathering of good-looking, sophisticated friends. But this is America, so you also have the freedom to disregard me. Until next time!