Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Finding a tasty, refreshing IPA among Artale Wine Co.’s selections

January 29, 2014

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

This week, I would like to talk about an IPA I came across while browsing the fine selections at Artale Wine Co., 6876 Spring Creek Road, Rockford.

Don’t let the name fool you! Along with fine wines and spirits, Artale Wine Co. also has an excellent selection of craft beer. Anthony and Aaron (a certified Cicerone) are there to help guide you to the right beer for your palate.

A brief history of the IPA is in order. India Pale Ales (IPAs) were first brewed in England during the late 1700s for export overseas to British soldiers in India, which was part of the soldier’s monthly salary. To keep their beer from spoiling during the long voyage, English brewers fortified their traditional pale ale recipes with natural preservatives: more malted barley, for a higher alcohol content, and more hops.

Schlafly Tasmanian IPA is brewed by the St. Louis Brewery in St. Louis. Schlafly has a solid portfolio of beers, and the Tasmanian IPA is one of their best so far. It is called a SMASH beer, meaning it is brewed with a Single Malt (pale type) and Single Hop (Galaxy, which is an Australian hop). The hop’s unique flavors of citrus and pineapple shine in this beer. Unfortunately, it is a limited-release beer available October through January.

IPA is best served in a tumbler, Nonic or Becker-type pint glass around 50 degrees Fahrenheit in order to get the full hop aroma and flavor. Upon pouring, the beer was a cloudy straw-blond color, with a dense white head of small, tight bubbles. The citrus and pineapple, along with a hint of pine, creates an exotic aroma from the hops, much like a bowl of fresh-cut fruit, inviting you to take the first sip of this beer.

The initial taste is hoppy with a bitterness that is not overbearing, exhibiting a grassy and resinous flavor while still retaining some of the juicy exotic fruit and citrus character that lingers through to the finish.

Being a single-malt beer, it is surprisingly well balanced, as the bread/biscuit flavors of the pale malt support the hops very well. The mouth feel is medium to full, with medium carbonation.

Although this weighs in at 7.2 percent alcohol, it is hidden well with no noticeable bite. A nice lacing was present on the glass from start to finish.

This is a very well-crafted IPA that was extremely tasty and refreshing. I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, so much so a second was soon to follow. I will be on the lookout for this when it is again released next October.

Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to http://forestcitybrewers.org. If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at rockfordcraftbeer@comcast.net.

From the Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2014, issue

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