This week, I give America a break. I've got two foreign breweries - one I'm sure you've heard of - to spotlight...because good beer isn't exclusive to the US.
First up, from our friendly neighbors to the North, Driftwood's Fat Tug.
I had never heard of Driftwood before. But when I saw this cool looking bottle - the dark blue matte label mixed with the shiny silver lettering - it really caught my eye. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a cool bottle. And, at $8.99 for the 22-ounce bomber, the beer was reasonably priced so I had to try it.
Driftwood, I later came to find out, is from our neighbors to the north. They call Victoria in British Columbia, Canada home. The brewery, which is right on the edge of Canada/Washington border, has been making beers since 2008 and has grown vastly since their inception. I’m not too sure where all in the United States they distribute though, so you’ll just have to keep an eye out for them.
When I popped open the cap and poured Driftwood’s only year-round IPA, Fat Tug, the contents were a light copper, slightly amber color with over two fingers of fluffy white head that has some pretty solid retention time to it.
Inside the 22-ounces I poured are five different types of hops (Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Citra, and Columbus) and three types of malt (Carapils, Crystal and Pilsner). And, I’ve got to say, it smells wonderful. The aroma consisted of loads of juicy tropical fruit – honeydew melon, grapefruit, mango – with a tiny hop presence and a bready malt backing.
I was really happy that the flavor mirrored the aroma almost spot on. Up front there is some mild carbonation that is followed by the fruity hops; mostly it’s the melon and mango that show up here. The tastes then turn towards the malts on the backend, ending with a solid bready, yet slightly caramel, flavor. The beer has a slightly creamier mouthfeel to it than many IPAs and is pretty dry on the backend as well.
Fair warning though: the 80+ IBU (not sure on the actual amount, I’ve seen anywhere from 80-100) this beer has leaves a lingering bitterness on the aftertaste that some people probably wouldn’t like.
The 7% booze that’s inside the bottle is hidden really well behind the hops and malts. However, as the bomber got emptier, I could feel the alcohol start to warm my chest as I drank it down. I was surprised at how moderate the lacing was as the beer disappeared. There were little cloud formations along the side of my glass but, for the most part, there really wasn’t much lacing at all.
Overall, this might be my favorite Canadian beer so far. Like I said, I had never heard of Driftwood before but now I see I might be missing out on some really great brews. Fat Tug has great tropical flavors, a nice balance between hops and malt, and a solid ABV to make it worth you while and your money. 8.5/10
Next up, this company is quite well known and headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. Evil Twin is back with their Mango Femme Fatale.
Evil Twin began in 2010 and is a ghost brewery, they make beers using others brewing equipment instead of having their own brewery. For example, this beer - Mango Femme Fatale - was made using Westbrook Brewing Co’s equipment in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The 22-ounce bomber will run you around $10.99, which is about average for Evil Twin beers.
Mango Femme Fatale is an American IPA brewed with mangos and a single hop – the Kohatu hop.
When poured, this IPA is a burnt orange color with more head than it knows what to do with. There were easily more than three fingers of foam on my initial pour. Luckily the head dissipates rather quickly and, within like two minutes, there is just a little bit of airy white bubbles left atop the beer.
There is an interesting aroma with this one. It has quite a yeasty, spicy aroma – it smells way more like a farmhouse than an IPA. There’s also plenty of fruit (mango, passion fruit) with a backing of pine and pale malts.
The taste followed the aroma rather closely. There is an initial burst of carbonation (it’s pretty damn carbonated) that fizzes out into tropical fruit flavor before the pines and malts kick in and grab a hold of the taste. I was surprised that there was not as much mango as I thought there would be. It was mostly pineapple and passion fruit with just a subtle touch of the mango.
Also, like the aroma indicated, this beer tasted much more like a saison than an IPA. There was a spicy yeast quality with every sip that I’m used to getting only with farmhouse ales.
At the end there is a slightly bitter aftertaste that lingers for a little while. The fact that Mango Femme Fatale ends on the dry side adds to that bitterness. The beer is a tad higher than average in alcohol content, at 7% ABV, and is hidden really well in the taste.
Overall, this is not one of my favorite from them. The mango is a little too hidden and, with all the other flavors and spices going on, the beer just didn’t live up to the rest of their arsenal. Maybe I just don’t like the Kohatu hops…I’m not sure. But I do know that Evil Twin is usually a very solid brand. This one just falls a tad short. 7/10