Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Tyranena Brewing Co.’s Bitter Woman IPA does namesake proud

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

Greetings, fellow beer geeks.

This week, I would like to talk about an American IPA from behind the Cheddar Curtain near Madison, Wis., in Lake Mills, Wis. The brewery is Tyranena (pronounced Tie-rah-nee-nah) Brewing Co. and the beer is Bitter Woman IPA.

Tyranena Brewing Co was founded in November 1998 and began operations in October 1999. Before this spring, Tyranena beers were not available in the Rockford area. The brewery has a tasting room and beer garden, but no restaurant. They do have food carts on some evenings and on Fridays during the summer they will have personal-size, wood-fired pizzas. Picnics and grilling are also welcome, but you must bring your own food and utensils. Check out their website for details at

Bitter Woman has a hefty hop bill utilizing Magnum, Cascade and Amarillo hops, at 68 IBUs (International Bittering Units), which is the upper end of the scale for an American IPA. According to the website, the namesake is Aunt Cal, an early resident of Lake Mills. Rumor has it she was the sweetheart of American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Aunt Cal never wed. The brewers of Tyranena say this beer is a tribute to the way she may have been, very fruity and intensely bitter.

Bitter Woman is available year round, packaged in bottles, and at 5.75 percent alcohol by volume, this is a beer you can have a couple of in one sitting.

This beer is to be served at 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit according to the website, in a Nonick or standard pint tumbler. I, once again, am using my Perfect Pint glass to get the full effect of the hops.

The beer pours a slightly hazy, but brilliant, burnt orange color with a huge three-finger depth of rocky white head, which settled to a good one-finger depth and eventually a thin layer, leaving a sticky, spotted lacing as it receded throughout the entire glass. There is some decent carbonation activity for the style.

The aroma starts off biscuit and a tiny bit of caramel, exhibiting its malt backbone. Some light (very light) hints of pineapple and peppery spices waft up briefly, and then the pine/resin and grapefruit citrus take over.

The first taste presents a mix of maltiness at the front, which is hard to pinpoint, as the aggressive hops overshadow rather quickly. The hops hit all at once, making it difficult to discern, although I do get some spicy, grapefruit and pine flavors, which finish out rather bitter.

The mouthfeel leans more to a medium and slightly creamy body, and the carbonation is appropriate for the style. The dry finish creates the desire for a second drink — and then another.

My overall impression is that Bitter Woman is an easy going malt forward IPA that should be enjoyable for the novice and for the well-seasoned IPA drinker as well. Aunt Cal should be proud.


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 If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at

From the July 23-29, 2014, issue

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