For anyone that has been a fan of BBG, they know they can expect a lot of Chicago beer...or Cali beer...or Michigan beer. But this week, like last week, I wanted to chose a place that is still growing in the beer world. And so this week I bring you two brews from Kentucky...both which happen to come from a can (because good beer isn't exclusive to bottles and drafts).
I would venture that Kentucky has one brewery that is well known nationwide. I'm talking about Against the Grain Brewing. And so, of course I have to feature them here.
The Louisville staple has been making great brews since 2011. You can find them all over the Midwest and in 19 states in total (primarily on the eastern half of the US). To see if they are available near you, you can check this handy website which I use WAY too often!
This double IPA is made with Nelson Sauvin hops all the way from New Zealand and packs a punch, with an ABV of 8.2%. The price point on this beer is pretty solid: $12.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans. It’s a tad bit higher than average but still doable.
When I popped the top on the can and poured the contents into my glass, the beer was a slightly amber, slightly copper color with about two fingers of frothy white head topping the brew. The head soon simmered down to a simple dusting but left a thick lacing around the entire glass as it fell.
Nelson Sauvin hops are named after the same grape used for Sauvignon Blanc wines, so it was no surprise that this beer had a super citrus, slightly wine-like aroma. There were heaps of grapefruit and tangerine along with a hint of mango and other tropical fruits. And, even though it has a higher alcohol content, the booze remained hidden in the smell.
It was quite a nice aroma, so I couldn’t wait to try it. When I did finally have Rico Sauvin, I was not disappointed.
Up front you get a little carbonation before the citrus, mostly grapefruit, kicks in. There is a hoppy bitterness that accompanies the fruit…I didn’t find it too bad at all, but I feel like others might. The end of the sip ends with a bready malt flavor that cuts down on the hops and evens things out.
After the citrus fruit and hops, the beer ends as easily and as quickly as it began. There is barely an aftertaste left on the palate, no real lingering bitterness, no dry feeling in your mouth. It’s quite nice.
I mentioned it had a pretty high ABV earlier, and towards the middle of the glass you can start to feel the alcohol. Not in the sense that you’re drunk but, rather, the beer begins to give you that boozy feeling on the way down, warming your chest and cheeks. And, maybe it’s because I was looking for it but, towards the end of the can, the alcohol started to creep into the taste a tad bit as well.
All that being said, for me, it was pretty smooth sailing all the way through this double IPA. Against the Grain knows exactly what they are doing when the make their brews. Way back in 2014 I reviewed another DIPA from them; Citra Ass Down. While that one has the better name (and is a really solid DIPA), Rico is better.
The best way to describe Rico Sauvin: great flavors, a hit of hoppy bitterness, and one of the smoothest DIPAs I’ve encountered. 8.5/10
Next up, from a little bit farther east in the KY, Lexington's West Sixth.
Lexington, Kentucky is known as the “Horse Capitol of the World” and is home to the University of Kentucky. But they also house West Sixth Brewing. West Sixth just celebrated its four year anniversary this year (so it was founded in 2012 for those non-math majors). Unfortunately, as of right now they are still only available in Kentucky and Ohio.
This pale wheat ale was brewed with lemongrass and Sorachi Ace hops. The beer is golden straw colored and, when poured from the can, produces quite a burst of foam up front. Nearly three fingers of fluffy, off white head topped the brew initially. However, within a few minutes it was down to a splotchy dusting around the glass.
The name kind of clues you in to how this beer smells…lots of lemon and citrus with earthy/gassy undertones and some bready wheat hidden in there as well.
As soon as the beer touched my tongue there was a quick burst of carbonation. Then the flavors took over…and they were quite good.
This is not your traditional wheat beer, so the banana and cloves that most have are not here. Instead there are very few spices; instead they replaced those spicy yeast components with a bready malt flavor that cuts down on the citrus and lemongrass flavors that control the taste. If not for that pale malt addition, this wheat ale would be dominated by lemons (not that I would complain about that either).
There is a slight hoppiness to it, but no real bitter or lingering flavors after each sip. The medium carbonation fizzes out quickly and the beer has a lighter body to it. Lemongrass Wheat does end on a slight dry note though, which made me want to take that next sip as soon as possible.
And, as far as lacing goes, there is very little. That initial volcano of head was all the beer had in it. As the foam dissipated atop the beer, very little stuck to the sides of my glass and, eventually, there was just a few slivers of tiny bubble clouds remaining.
Overall, this was a really, really good wheat beer – especially if you like citrus and lemongrass. It’s quite sessionable, even at 5.7% ABV, and really smooth. Perfect for this summer. Plus you can get a six pack for under $10, which is totally worth it. 8.5/10