This week, I have a beer from what used to be one of the US’s most sought after breweries and another from a pioneer in the craft community.
I’ll start with a North Carolina brewery that has caused quite a ruckus lately...unfortunately it’s because they sold out to AB InBev.
And you might remember that recently I went on a semi-rant about Big Beer moving into the craft beer world and breweries selling out. Well, a brewery that just got slammed for doing so is Asheville’s Wicked Weed.
The North Carolinian brewery had been a huge success since opening up back in 2011. Just recently they announced that AB InBev had bought them and, do to that, they have suffered a massive backlash from the beer community.
For me though, I had never had them but heard only good things. So, when my friend visited North Carolina a few weeks ago, I asked him to bring me some home…even if they were owned by Budweiser. He obliged and brought me back a few that were all canned/bottled prior to the sellout…so I’m counting them as original Wicked Weed.
And today I’m presenting you with Lieutenant Dank, an IPA made with Columbus, El Dorado, and Simcoe hops. A six pack of cans will cost you a pretty penny, $15.99, so it’s pricy. Each can has a modest 6.5% ABV and around 60 IBU.
This IPA poured a slightly translucent amber color with some nice fluffy white head topping it off. Over two fingers of dense bubbles created a nice barrier between me and the liquid below…and it was in no hurry to leave. Even after a few minutes, the head had barely subsided any.
On the nose, you easily get why they have “dank” in the name. This beer is packs a nice punch of dank citrus hops with huge grapefruit and mango notes leading the way. Behind it all is some light resinous pine and some sweeter toasted malts. It smells like a good IPA should, in my opinion. It was quite an amazing scent and I found myself hoping the beer tasted nearly as good as it smelled.
My first sip began with some light carbonation before the flavors slowly worked their way out. And, to my immense joy, Lieutenant Dank somehow actually tasted slightly better than it smelled.
There was a slight bubble gum flavor that led everything off and seemed to work really well with the bold tropical fruit notes that would follow. And, those citrus notes - the grapefruit, mango, and some melon – hit midway through the taste along with a sweetness from some crackery malt. On the backend some big earthy/floral notes (a combination of dankness and lighter flowers) hit my taste buds and blended seamlessly into the rest of the flavors.
As the sip began to fade, there was just a hint of hoppy bitterness and almost no dryness or lingering aftertaste. It ended really cleanly and made me want more ASAP.
All in all, Lieutenant Dank was work the money. Yes, I know Wicked Weed is now a “bad guy” in the craft beer world and drinking their beer supports big business instead of local…and that really sucks. Because, of the limited beers I’ve gotten to try from them, they’ve been really, really tasty. I can see why they were hyped up so much and have had such a hard fall.
If you’re a craft beer fan (and can still stand to try Big Beer brands) and haven’t had Wicked Weed yet, I would recommend that you at the very least try them. They’re a bit more expensive but you can tell that this is a quality brew. It’s really too bad that they’re owned by Bud...
Next up, I have Oskar Blues which is still a proud craft brewery (for now...please don’t sell out).
But they’re not just a craft brewery..no, Oskar Blues is a pioneer in the world of craft brewing. They started in Longmont, Colorado and, way back in 2002, they were the first brewery to can a craft beer (Dale’s Pale Ale). And, because of that (and their other really good beers) they have seen a huge expansion over the past 15 years.
They are now available in 44 of the 50 states (get your act together Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia) and have opened up new locations in Austin, Texas and Brevard, North Carolina.
Today I have their newest summer beer, Fugli, which is an IPA made with Mosaic hops and yuzu and ugli fruits. Yuzu is a citrus fruit that’s becoming more common in beers but this might be the first time I’ve seen ugli fruit. Ugli fruit, which I had to Google myself, is a hybrid between a grapefruit, an orange, and a tangerine…so I already like it!
A six pack of Fugli cost the average $10 with each can containing a 5.8% ABV and 60 IBU.
Fugli poured a bright golden copper color with a huge head billowing up…in fact, so much so that my long glass couldn’t even contain it and bubbles spilled over the sides. The white foam was incredibly airy and yet, quite dense as well. The three fingers of head slowly…very slowly, faded away into a thin layer atop the liquid and, along the way, left little clouds clinging to the edges.
On the nose, the yuzu and ugli fruit were quite prominent. It featured big tropical fruit notes and with some nice hop presence to it. Behind the produce there were some lightly toasted malt characters and some bready notes as well but it was certainly the citrus that dominated.
My first taste began with some moderate carbonation that fizzled throughout the duration of the sip. The flavors seemed to flow up from the effervescence slowly coating my taste buds and, much like the aroma, it was very citrus-centric.
There were strong notes of grapefruit, tangerine, orange, and melon brought on from the yuzu and ugli fruit that lasted the entire time, which was nice. Midway through the taste the bready malt made an appearance to calm down the sweet fruit juices but to no avail.
As the sip begins to fade away, the hops remind you they are indeed there and bring a pretty solid citrusy bitterness that ends it all. Fugli ends on the drier side of things with a sticky quality from all the fruit juice that makes you need another sip sooner rather than later.
So, with the beer disappearing rather quickly, the remaining foam continued to lace my glass really well. There were some distinct lines but mostly it was a web-work of millions of bubbles connecting splotches together.
Fugli was a really good blend of citrus fruit, hops, and malts. It’s tasty. It’s sessionable (I could easily polish off this six pack in a night). And it’s perfect for summer – light, crisp, and has copious amounts of tropical fruit.
Unless you live in one of those six states that SOMEHOW don’t get Oskar Blues, I’d recommend keeping this on hand for any day above 90°.