This week I have two music-inspired brews; an ode to punk and another celebrating a certain British pop phenomenon.
First up, a collaboration from the Midwest and Cali.
Starting things off is this Toppling Goliath/Bottle Logic collab.
Decorah, Iowa is the home to Toppling Goliath and not much else (sorry to say). They invited Bottle Logic, from Anaheim, California, to create a beer with them that celebrates the two breweries and punk rock music. They came up with Gamma, Gamma Ray!
Gamma, Gamma Ray! was brewed with “countless hops” and is packaged in 22-ounce bombers that run about $11 each. The bottle is packed with a very solid 8.1% ABV and just 30 IBU (one of the lowest amounts I’ve ever seen in an imperial).
This double New England IPA poured a super hazy, muddy straw color with a massive amount of foam filling up the glass. Nearly half my tulip glass was consumed by the dense, eggshell white head that protected the liquid below and slowly faded away.
There was juicy bite to the aroma, in that sweet tropical fruits lead the way – pineapple, passion fruit, mango, and grapefruit mostly – but a strong hoppy twinge came with the fruit. Behind all the hoppy goodness was a wheat/oaty grain-like backing that mellows it out some.
Once the foam had finally dissipated enough for me to get to the beer, my first sip began with a bold rush of carbonation, a creamy mouthfeel, and a quite heavy body to it.
From there the flavors are surprisingly mild initially, with the juicy tropical flavors slowly coming forth. A blend of mango and passion fruit, with just a hint of pineapple tartness, start it all off with those standard NE IPA flavors.
However, flavors turn some in the second half.
Midway through a grapefruit rind bitterness swoops in, bringing all 30 IBU down with full force. After a moment with the grapefruit, a weird powdery feel with a shockingly high bitter bite hit me. It was like I had just eaten a crushed aspirin pill: bitter, chalky, and it was a huge detour from the start of the beer.
Luckily, that harsh taste didn’t hit on every sip, just on a handful throughout the bottle…but, after the first two times it happened, it was enough to have me approaching each swig with caution before continuing.
Otherwise, the beer ended rather cleanly. On the good sips, Gamma, Gamma Ray! ended with a slight dryness and just a hint of hoppy citrus rind lingering afterwards.
The 8.1% is hidden almost entirely. But I’d still recommend sharing this bomber with a friend but, if you’re selfish like me, it’s totally okay to drink the whole thing by yourself.
As it warmed up some, the bite seemed to lessen and lessen but it was still a bit bitter on the backend.
Overall, I was slightly disappointed with the second half of the beer. It started off so nicely and then did a complete 180° midway through with that striking, chalky/aspirin bitterness, which is not typical for a NE IPA…although this might be the first imperial NE IPA I’ve tried.
Next up, a Carolina brewery with ties from across the pond.
Opening up back in early 2012, Fortnight Brewing was founded in Cary, North Carolina (a far, west suburb of Raleigh) by two Brits and a Columbian after they met at a bar and decided they could do better.
They offer four year-round brews along with two kombucha brews and eight seasonal releases. You can find their stuff in North Carolina and a few spots in South Carolina.
Their year-round IPA, All You Need is Hops, is brewed with English malts and west coast hops. A six-pack of cans cost the typical $10 and each can of it has a moderate 6.1% ABV and 56 IBU.
It poured a cloudy amber color with about two fingers of fluffy white head topping it off. The foam stuck around for a little while, slowly lacing the glass as it dissipated.
On the nose, this IPA had a nice blend of hops and malts. Orange, lemon, and hints of grass and flowers lead the way from the hops. But balancing out those hops were some caramel and bready malt.
My first sip started with a rush of carbonation that stung slightly before allowing the flavors to shine. The beer started off with some moderate hoppy notes of grapefruit and a peppery spice that wasn’t at all noticeable in the smell.
The pepper/earthy flavors didn’t last too long as the malts kicked in, calming the brew down with some sweet caramel and crackery notes.
Midway through there was a bloom of citrus, with orange, lemon, and some light melon washing over my taste buds…and it was by far the best part of the beer.
After that citrusy rush, a grassy resinous feeling coated my tongue and finished off the sip with a sticky dry feeling.
And, somehow, the bitterness from the hops just kept coming. There might have only been 56 IBU but it sure felt like more. There was a sharp spike of bitterness that dug in at the back of my throat and didn’t let go until well after everything else had faded away.
I wish there was more from this beer. The best part of All You Need is Hops was that citrus burst that only lasted briefly in the middle of it all. Outside of that, it was an average IPA that, sadly, I had higher hopes for when I first poured it.
You get a blend of flavors from the hops and then a dash of English malt sweetness but it just seemed to be rather basic and a bit over-carbonated.