22 June 2010

KOTBR #106: Taking Indianapolis by Force

In 2006,a crack commando blogging unit
was stuck drinking beer
that pretty much tasted like piss.

These men and women
promptly escaped
from a bland beer stockade
to the Indianapolis
craft beer underground.

Today, still wanted by macrobreweries,
they survive as soldiers of good taste.

If you can't find a good beer,
if no one else is serving beers with flavor,
and if you find their website,maybe you can follow...

The IPA-Team.

Indiana's craft brewing industry has been growing at a great rate, with 33 in operation right now and at least six more in Indianapolis alone planned for the next year or two. We haven't been able to make it to every brewery to roundtable their beer. But thankfully, they have been making their way to us.

We were happy to hear that Shallos Antique Bar on Indy's southside became the first bar (that we know of) in Indianapolis to have Crown Brewing's Special Forces IPA on tap and decided to make our way down for our first roundtable of this Crown Point-based brewery.

Jason: This is not my first experience with Crown Brewing. I've had an opportunity to drink their beers over the past year or more. I'm happy to say that brewmaster Steve Mazylewski has been doing some great things with Crown's beers and that the ownership and management team have been very enthusiastic about their brewery and the craft brewing community in general. They took the initiative to form the 1st annual Illiana Mayfest in Lake County this past May, a craft beer festival that exceeded everyone's expectations.

The Special Forces IPA is named in honor of a local Special Forces Army Ranger and is available on draft and in 22 ounce bombers. Special Forces pours with a cloudy amber color and has a hoppy nose with citrus notes. The hops cover the mouth and the back of the throat. Along with the hops is a strong malt backbone that doesn't overpower the hops, but isn't overpowered by the hops.

It is a great example of a by-the-book IPA, which I enjoy a lot. It isn't like many of the West Coast-style pale ales and IPA's and the popular DIPA's that we've all been enjoying, but that's okay. It holds it own against the other beers. I still find it to be a spectacular beer and am very happy that this special force has found their way into Indianapolis.

My analysis:
Reddish copper color.
Very little lacing, malt malt malty.
More hoppy in finish than front.

Upon initial tasting, my first thought was "this is not a very hoppy IPA". Considering that an IPA should always be hoppy, I ordered a Bell's Two Hearted IPA (the first off the keg, actually) for comparison's sake.

What we ended up with was a study in what Double IPAs can do to a person's perception of what is hoppy. We've spent so much time drinking Double IPAs as of late that maybe we forgot what the milder, regular IPA taste like. The bitterness here - in both beers for that matter - wasn't nearly as prevalent as we might have expected. In fact, Rodney refused to believe that the comparison beer was Two Hearted. So we got another sample, and achieved the same results.

Regardless, Crown Special Forces IPA is a tasty beer that stood up well against Bell's Two Hearted - a beer that is perhaps one of the gold standards of the IPA style.

It just wasn't what I expected.

Matt: I am pretty excited that we now have access to another Indiana brewer in Indianapolis. I am an admitted hop head and I like big hop presence IPAs that have big floral noses on them and a hop flavor profile to match. This beer though is what I think the style originally started out to be instead of what most brewers have evolved their IPAs into (not a bad thing at all). This beer had very little lacing on the pour, and the nose had rather light scents of grapefruit and pine. The flavor profile has a great deal of malt going on with plenty of sweetness that almost overcomes the hop flavors at some points, but overall, there is a good malt/hop balance. I liked this beer, but I would just prefer a bigger hop bite on it. I might think differently about this one in the winter though.

Rod: Special Forces IPA is a balanced IPA. It has a lot of hop power, but it also has a lot of sweetness to balance things out. For this reason, despite the huge hop presence, the bitterness will not slap you in the face. I won't say it's a love it or hate it kind of beer, but a lot of hardcore IPA fans definitely have their preferences. I prefer balanced IPAs. From the start, the caramel in the nose greatly subdues the presence of pine and grassy hops. The mouthfeel of the beer is almost sticky, with tons of pine, grapefruit and orange coming through in the massive amount of hops. Plenty of caramel fills in around the bitter sensations to create a hefty, though not overpowering sweetness. A bit of an herbal sensation, maybe basil, also shows up in the background.

I like this beer, and I would definitely order this again.

Okay, the A-Team didn't have any chicks, except as occasional guest stars. So I made them Charlie's Angels. Smart, strong, sexy, stylish. Yes, real women enjoy craft beer.

Gina: I pity the fool that doesn't drink this beer. Jason promised that I could be B.A. Baracus, but I guess it is okay that I am a Charlie's Angel, but which one?

Jess: I taste cilantro.

Crown Special Forces IPA
Mike: 3.72 Mugs Jason: 4.0 Mugs Gina: 3.35 Mugs Matt: 3.60 Mugs Rodney: 3.90 Mugs Jess: 3.20 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.62 Mugs

1 comment:

  1. That intro is genius. But....


    What about Amy Allen, who was fired because of "creative differences" (a.k.a. overwhelming sexism on the show) in season two?

    I suppose you're forgiven for forgetting her -- I wouldn't want to have to write as her either.