For this week’s installment, I have two SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) brews to share with you.
Let’s start with the birthday boys - Bitter Brothers’ Prodigal Son.
Bitter Brothers just celebrated their second birthday on Sunday (January 21st). The San Diego brewery has really exploded lately and, like most from the area, specializes in hoppy, West Coast IPAs but, unlike most, has a vast variety to choose from.
Whether it’s their Golden Child hefe, their Black Sheep porter, or any style in between, you can find it at their taproom…or throughout southern California.
I was able to grab a four-pack of their single hop IPA – Prodigal Son.
Prodigal Son is an Amarillo hopped IPA that packs a solid 6.8% ABV and 53 IBU into each 16-ounce can. A four-pack of cans costs $11, so it’s a tad bit higher than average.
When poured three fingers of fluffy, dense off-white foam built its way up atop the moderately cloudy, copper colored beer.
The aroma was what you might expect from a brewery called Bitter Brothers; hop forward with plenty of citrus and pine that slightly stung my nostrils. Behind the hops was a soft and sweet bready malt backing but, make no mistake, the Amarillo hops certainly shined in the scent.
My first sip began with some mild carbonation that quickly gave way to the flavors. Bright citrus notes of orange, tangerine, and lemon popped up initially, providing a very juicy start to it all.
With all the foam that had built up initially I thought the beer would have much more of a carbonation sting to it as well…but, instead, a soft and pillowy mouthfeel and creamier body accompanied the flavors.
Around the halfway point of the taste, a light spice and some floral flavors invaded the citrus with some bready and caramel malt sweetness tagging along, eliminating most of the hoppy bitterness along the way.
Sure, there was still a hoppy bite on the back of my tongue on occasion but, surprisingly, the malts really subdued the hops throughout the taste and added a very complimentary flavor to Prodigal Son. The taste wasn’t nearly as bitter as you’d expect from the way it smelled.
As the sip began to fade, the citrus once again made an appearance – but this time it was oranges, a hint of mango, and some more of that zesty lemon.
Prodigal Son ended on a dash of dryness but otherwise very cleanly…no lingering bitterness or aftertaste at all.
As the beer was emptied from my glass (a hell of a lot faster than I anticipated), there was some light lacing left but, for the most part, my tulip glass remained devoid of any streaks or clouds sticking around.
Overall, I really enjoyed the limited time I spent with the Prodigal Son. It was packed with juicy flavors, a nice balancing malt backing, and wasn’t nearly as bitter as the name/aroma implied it might be. I honestly had no idea that I would enjoy the Amarillo hops as much as I did in this beer. Next time I’m out west, I’ll be sure to hit them up for more.
Next up, I have Good City’s Motto.
Good City is a relatively new brewery in what was once the brewing capital of the US – Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The city might be known for Miller but a lot of independent craft breweries have sprung up all over the city in the past decade. Good City was one of those, opening their doors in 2016.
Today they offer eight year-round beers but still only distribute to the Milwaukee area (that I’ve seen).
A buddy shared with me one of their year-round brews – Motto, a single malt/single hop IPA brewed with Crisp Pale malt and Mosaic hops. A six-pack costs the usual $10 with each can having a moderate 5.2% ABV.
Motto poured a bright copper color with just a finger of white head building up. The bubbles quickly fizzle out, leaving a thin layer around the edge of my glass and a solitary cloud floating around the middle of the beer.
A medley of tropical fruits, led by passion fruit and pear, met my nose. It was like smelling a liquid fruit cocktail. There was some pineapple, cherry, and mango as well as a slight hoppy pine aroma hiding behind the fruit. A light, caramel malt was there to balance out the aroma but didn’t stand a chance against the Mosaic hops that really pushed out those great tropical fruit smells.
My first taste began with a solid sting of carbonation that doesn’t last too long before the flavors really start to pop.
As the scent indicated, it was the tropical fruits that assaulted my taste buds; there was a rush of pineapple, grapefruit, pear, mango, and lemon that overpowered almost all of the other flavors.
The pale malts didn’t get a chance to add too much to the beer, as the hops were really the winners here, but they did add some sweetness to Motto which complimented the fruit flavors even more.
Towards the backend of the taste, there is a hoppy bitterness that adds some pine to the tropical fruit flavors and lingers for a few moments after everything is all said and done.
With that piney aftertaste there is a slight cherry flavoring…but like those cherries from Dole fruit cocktails…you know, the flavor these little guys left. Motto also leaves a resinous, slightly sticky feeling that hangs around for a little while.
Overall Motto is really sessionable and quite easy to drink. It’s a great summer beer…or a good winter beer that’ll bring you back to those warm summer days. It’s light…it’s tasty…it’s affordable.
Miller might have made Milwaukee famous but there’s a whole slew of better beer up there. And Good City is certainly doing their part up there.