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Belt’s Beer Garden: 99 Problems

Toppling Goliath’s Pompeii & Perrin’s 98 Problems

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For today’s installment of Belt’s Beer Garden, I have two brews from small Midwest towns. I called this article “99 Problems” but, after a few of these, you’ll forget about most of them.

First up, a brewery from Iowa.

Iowa certainly doesn’t have much going for it…there’s corn, corn, more corn, Zombie Burger in Des Moines, some corn again, still more corn (you know it’s sad when you’ve lived in DeKalb, Illinois and still think Iowa is boring)…and then there’s this weirdly awesome place in northern Iowa - Toppling Goliath Brewing.

Toppling Goliath is located in Decorah, Iowa just miles from the Minnesota boarder. They began back in May of 2009 and have blown up ever since with huge, delicious hoppy brews like their Pseudo Sue pale ale, King Sue DIPA, and Xhops Series (that feature a new color/experimental hop each batch).

Today I have one of their limited released Hop Patrol beers, Pompeii, an IPA made with Mosaic hops. The 22-ounce bomber comes with a $9.99 price tag along with a moderate 5.5% ABV and 60 IBU.

Pompeii poured a light, slightly translucent copper color with two fingers of eggshell white foam topping the beer. The foam fizzled away somewhat quickly and left some nice lacing along the rim before I had even taken a sip.

There was an intriguing aroma emitted from this beer. There were the usual tropical/citrus fruits, like mango and pineapple. But there were also some nutty hop notes as well as very doughy, yeasty, bready scent that really cut into the hops. It was like a ball of whole grain dough was rolled across some fruit.

Pompeii had a lighter body than I thought it would as my first sip started with just a little light carbonation that ended quickly. From the minute carbonation fizz came all of the flavors.

The nutty hops mixed with the fruity hops up front; creating a blend of mango, pineapple, and flax seed that washed across my taste buds. There was some light hoppy bitterness that accompanied the first moments of the beer but that faded rather quickly.

It was the citrus flavors that faded first, leaving a piney and nutty flavor to finish off the sip. And it lingered for a little while, along with a dash of dryness, after everything was all said and done.

As the beer was excavated from my glass, the bubbles continued to stick to my glass in long lines and webby structures but, the farther down the beer got, the weaker and less lacing there was.

Pompeii, for me, was good but not what I had come to expect from TGB. The yeast in combination with the Mosaic hops created a much nuttier flavor than I thought. Sure, the fruit was still there but the flavors bordered on more of an English IPA than an American one.

This beer, like the city it’s named after, won’t be around for ever though (too soon?). So if you’re a fan of nutty, bready IPAs with some citrus backing, this is the beer for you!

Secondly, I have a beer from a place that is no stranger to brewing up greatness - Michigan.

Michigan is home to tons of breweries. It’s clearly one of the best beer states in the US…and now there’s a new kid on the block (at least in Chicagoland). Perrin Brewing Co., out of Comstock (right next to Grand Rapids), opened in 2012 but wasn’t available by me until about two months ago.

Currently Perrin is available in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. They offer four year-round brews – a golden ale, a black ale, a session IPA, and an IPA – as well as a few seasonal and special release brews to keep an eye out for.

When faced with the choice of what to get, I went with their IPA, 98 Problems, which is a West Coast IPA made with hops from way out west and Cascade hops from Michigan. It packs a modest punch at 6.5% ABV and has 60 IBU. A six pack is the usual $10.

98 Problems poured a cloudy, dark straw (almost amber) color with just about two fingers of fluffy white head billowing upwards. The sticky foam didn’t stay too long and, within a minute or so, all that remained was a few cloudy patches sporadically placed atop the liquid below.

On the nose 98 Problems was as West Coast as it gets! It was like I just grabbed a beer from Oregon, not Michigan. There were huge hoppy tropical fruit notes – grapefruit, pineapple, mango, passion fruit, and more. Behind the fruits were more hops, adding an earthy pine aroma and then, hidden beneath it all, was some caramel and biscuity malt that lent a nice sweetness to the brew.

My first sip was smooth and had very little carbonation. Instead, there was a creamier mouthfeel to this brew and the flavors emerged rather subtly as the beer flushed across my tongue.

First, it was actually the cracker/caramel malt that started it all off with a bready sweetness that quickly made way for the tropical fruits that followed. There were bursts of grapefruit, lemon, mango, and passion fruit.

Then, as the sip began to fade, the hops once again took control and a piney, sometimes tropical, bitterness locked on to my taste buds to end the sip before slowly faded away. With just a hint of dryness lingering as well, the beer ended semi-cleanly.

The malt sweetness did well to attempt to balance the brew out but, make no mistake, this is an IPA meant for those that love hops. It may say only 60 IBU but they’re sure a noticeable in this one.

If you’re a West Coast fan living in the Midwest, this is a must try. There are a lot of breweries from the rest of the country that say they can make a good West Coast IPA…but most of them are wrong. Not Perrin…they got the style down perfectly.

Any fan of IPAs will find this to be an easy drinking beer that packs a lot of citrus flavor and some nice malt backing (I wouldn’t call it balanced but the malts certainly help the beer up front). All in all…98 Problems is good choice for your next six-pack.