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Belt’s Beer Garden: Key to Hoppiness

Skeleton Key’s Ill Gufo - a hazy IPA

Skeleton Key, from the Chicago suburb of Woodridge, Illinois, has been brewing up beer AND training future brewers with classes at their brewery since September of 2016. And while I had been planning on sharing one of their beers with you guys for a little while now, this week it means even more.

Sadly, just five days ago, on Sunday, June 20th, their brewery/taproom was hit by a deadly tornado that ripped through the area, leaving their entire building condemned and destroying much of the surrounding neighborhood.

A gofundme, which can be found here, has been set up to help them restore their building, get them brewing again, and support their staff and owners during this time. If you can spare a few dollars, please consider donating to help get their brewery back up and running so they can keep bringing fresh beer to Chicagoland.

Today I wanted to showcase their Ill Gufo, a New England IPA brewed with a ton of Galaxy and Vic Secret hops and then accentuated by some Citra and Simcoe hops as well. It features a solid 7.3% ABV and a four-pack of 16-ounce cans costs a very reasonable $16.

This hazy IPA poured a murky golden orange color with just about a finger of white head topping off the beer. The foam leaves some moderate lacing as it disappears down to a thin cloud across the top of the glass.

Ill Gufo has quite the tropical aroma. It’s led by big, bold notes of pineapple, mango, papaya, and tangerine. Behind the fruit is a balancing sweetness from the grist that features a light breadiness and some flaked oat/wheat characteristics. It was a very soft, creamy smelling IPA which, given the higher ABV, could make it a dangerous brew.

My first sip started off with a mild rush of carbonation that waited a moment - allowing the flavors to appear first - before expanding midway through the sip. The hops began with a light bitterness that included those pineapple and papaya notes but also had a slightly tart lemon flavor joining in.

After the tropical flavors had run across my tongue, the hops turned slightly earthy. A grassy resinous quality joined a moderate amount of piney/floral flavors and pushed the tropical flavors to the background for a few moments.

There was a final push of fruit at the very end, however, that featured a wave of juicy mango, orange, and grapefruit peel.

Ill Gufo ended mostly clean. Lingering behind was a twinge of citrus rind bitterness and a sticky, dry feeling that was easily washed away with water (or another swig).

Overall, this was a very solid hazy IPA. It’s a rather crushable and easy to drink beer but wasn’t really outstanding in any way. A nice all-day drinker that finishes and sits lighter but still has a lot of flavor and character. It’d make a great tailgating IPA that’ll keep you warm during the Illinois winter at those mid-week NIU games.

And again, if you can, please donate to help get the Skeleton Key crew back on their feet. They’re amazing people who make great beer - once more, here’s that gofundme page.

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