The scene at Sun King last Thursday was quite a sight. Plenty of Indianapolis-area brewers, lots of familiar faces from craft beer events and a large selection of Sun King's devoted craft beer converts. Goliathon was playing a rocking set and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Indeed, a hoppy session beer seemed like the ideal beer at the time. I know I had forgotten that this 3 Floyds / Sun King collaboration was a session beer and my first taste of it was a bit of a shock at how light it was. After I had my own pint, I very happily settled in to the alcohol strength (or lack thereof) and huge hop presence of this beer. I remember being reminded of Stone Levitation, but with an entirely different hop profile, and in my opinion, better. And even though I had to take off early to get a run in, it was shaping up to be a really great night at Sun King.
Over the weekend I cracked open our growler and was still greeted with a healthy dose of hops. The combination seemed to carry a hybrid hop selection that sampled from both Alpha King and Osiris, which perhaps drew attention to the differences in hop flavors between the two. The body was light and crisp and the colder temperature didn't seem to detract from the beer at all. This time I was thinking more of New Belgium's Ranger IPA in terms of hop, malt and alcohol balance. A lighter summer beer with a crisp bitterness that lingered on the tongue. Then it hit me. Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale shared a similar citrus and grapefruit hop character and light body. In fact, it made me wish that I had the two side-by-side to compare. All these comparisons that came to mind while drinking 3 Kings ultimately drew me to a good conclusion about this beer. We don't have a lot of well balanced sessionable pale ales in Indy, and this certainly hits the spot. It would be nice to see this become a summer seasonal for both breweries since I think everyone who enjoys hops would agree that they would like to revisit this beer again and again.
Oh, and I should pick up a Goliathon CD.
It's a rare thing for a craft beer fan to see a beer come together from consumation to commencement, but I was lucky enough to be along for the ride when the good people at Sun King made the trip up to Three Floyds. Collaboration is less poetic than it sounds - preconceived ideas give the beer a nice start, but once the act starts things just happen. Is the finished beer exactly what the brewers originally planned? Well, maybe, partially, but as with any child, the end result isn't a perfect melding of both parents, but, perhaps as in many cases, the best elements of both.
As I put the images together for this roundtable, I realized we've done this 125 times. 125 roundtables. That's a crazy number, but I think it gives me enough background to have figured out my standards for score. Anything above 3.0 is something I'd definitely order again. Anything slightly below that I might reinvestigate. Once we get into the fours we're talking about beers I'd chose above any other. The closer we get to five, the bigger the liklihood that we're talking about a beer I couldn't pass up again. A beer rated 5.0 is a beer that I can't imagine could get better. Which brings us to Three Kings.
Four plus years we've been at this. And now, finally, I'm at a point where all I want is a beer I can drink a bunch of without getting trashed. A beer that's full of flavor, repeatably drinkable - a beer I could buy a growler of and know that I could work my way through. Does that happen anymore? Has it ever happened? Three Kings is that beer. A beer I could drink a growler of without (immediate, anyway) regret. A beer that would reward the effort. A beer I can't imagine being any better.
If I'm in love with Anchor Steam and Beak's Best (which I am) and this beer is better, then how can I go any other way? There's nothing I would change here.
At least until they make a 0% ABV version, anyway. 5.0 Mugs
My beer drinking tastes are pretty seasonal. I normally like hoppy beers in the spring and summer, and I go for heavier and darker beers in the fall and winter. This beer woke me up like a bear (shut your filthy mouth Jason) coming out of hibernation for hoppy beers. The collaboration beer brewed by Three Floyds and Sun King was brewed to bring attention to Indiana's bizarre blue laws that have never been updated. This beer pours a brilliantly clear golden color with a fingers worth of head on it. The nose is full of citrus scents like apricot, lemon peel, and guava fruit even. This beer is very refreshing on the palate with flavors of citrus fruit and hop bitterness. This is the perfect Spring/Summer beer and I'm going to need a clone recipe for this beer for home brewing purposes.
The only way this beer gets better for me is if I am sitting on the dock with my feet in the water. I loved this beer, and I truly hope we will get to have more of this beer in the future. 4.65 mugs.
Click to enlarge
Three Floyds/Sun King 3 Kings Pale Ale
Rodney: 4.1 Mugs | Mike: 5.0 Mugs | Matt: 4.65 Mugs | Gina: 4.95 Mugs | Jim: 4.1 Mugs | Jason: 4.33 Mugs | Chris: 4.4 Mugs | Jess: 3.5 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.37 Mugs