I have a couple Midwest IPAs for you this week, starting with a brewery from Chicago that is making their first appearance on BBG.
Let’s welcome Finch Beer Co. and their Plumage.
Finch Beer Co. began in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood in 2011 but just last year moved to their new brewhouse which is just a few blocks north of the United Center and just 400 feet away from Chicago juggernaut Goose Island.
Currently they’re canning nine different brews, including their famous DIPA, Hardcore Chimera, and their kettle sour, Tacocat. But I have one of their newer released – Plumage.
Plumage is an America IPA brewed with Citra and Blanc hops. The six-pack runs the average $10 and inside every can are 55 IBU and a 6.5% ABV.
This IPA poured a copper color with just under two fingers of head protecting the liquid below. The sticky, dense eggshell white foam had some nice staying power and slowly fizzled away, leaving some solid lacing to the top of my glass as it disappeared.
The aroma was that of hops and sticky sweet lemon candy; like Lemonheads or those sugar-coated lemon drops every grandma seems to have. The citrus controlled the smell with notes of lemons and tropical fruit, with some malty sweetness and just a dash of pine lingering behind it all.
My first taste began with just a tiny dash of carbonation before the hops kicked the flavors into high gear.
Up front the malts actually led the way with a sweet, caramel flavor while the Blanc hops sat behind and added some herbal and floral notes, like that of lemongrass, and a dash of white wine grapes.
Towards the middle the hops really showcase themselves and hit my taste buds with a dash of bitterness and some lemon, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits. The Blanc hops continue to provide a sweet grapey flavor and earthy undertones to it all which balances much better with the Citra hops than the malts up front.
As it ends, it does so surprisingly clean. There is no real aftertaste left stuck on my tongue, no real dry feeling, nothing. It simply ends with a flash of citrusy bitterness and then fizzles out.
Plumage, as it did from the very beginning, has some great lacing to it. Each swig was clearly marked with a solid line of bubbles, indicating exactly where the beer was before I took the sip.
Overall, this was a very solid IPA. That sticky-sweetness from the aroma didn’t carry over to the taste and I’m really glad it really didn’t leave a resinous finish clinging to my tongue at the end as some beers with that sugary scent have been known to do.
The flavors won’t amaze you but they are certainly very tasty and have a nice balance with the malts. Plumage is a solid, sessionable IPA and the whole sixer could easily be downed in an evening. But, with the 6.5% ABV, it’s probably best to spread it out over two days. Or not, whatever…after all, I’m not your mom.
Next up, from the Mitten, Odd Side Ales’ and one of their newer SMaSH beers.
Odd Side Ales comes from Grand Haven, Michigan and has been around since 2010. In the past eight years they’ve been steadily growing and can now be found in a few states around the area but are mostly still just in Michigan and the Chicagoland area from what I’ve seen.
And, since I liked those brews so much, when I saw their newer SMaSH beer – Falcon Punch, an IPA made with French Pale Malt and Falconer’s Flight hops I was quick to grab a sixer.
Falcon Punch does indeed pack a punch, with an 8.5% ABV and 96 IBU, but the six-pack costs just a tad more at $10.99.
When poured, it was a light orangey/copper color with moderate head building up. Just about a finger of bright, white foam topped the brew but quickly sizzled down to a thin dusting across the top.
There was subtle, blended aroma that featured earthy and floral notes, some pine, some light citrus, and a bready/crackery malt backing. The hop presence was strong, so I knew those IBU would be nipping at my taste buds, but in the aroma the malts added a sweetness that I was hoping would carry into the flavor.
My first sip began with a rush of carbonation that lingered for the duration of the sip, just slowly tingling my taste buds throughout it all.
The flavors pushed their way forward over the carbonation and, up front, led with a burst of lemon, tangerine, and grapefruit while the Falconer’s Flight hops also imparted a bitterness that stuck to the back of my tongue.
Around the midway point the hops switched gears and abandoned the citrus flavors for the earthier tones, paving the way for some pine and nutty flavors to come forward. The malts then added some bready sweetness but it wasn’t really enough to cover the massive hop profile, allowing the bitter sting to continue.
As Falcon Punch ends there is one final push from the citrus, with a bright pop of lemon zest and orange before it begins to slowly fade away. After everything was said and done, there was a sticky residue and some dryness left on my tongue and, after every few sips, it was necessary for me to swig some water to clean it off.
Overall, Falcon Punch was decent. The bitterness was a bit overpowering on some occasions (coming from a guy that loves hops) and the aftertaste wasn’t my favorite…but, if you’re like me and like Falconer’s Flight hops, the flavors won’t (and didn’t) disappoint.