Review: Dogfish Head ‘My Antonia’ Imperial Pilsner

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Imperial Pilsner. A seasoned beer drinker will tell you that these are two beer terms rarely, if ever, found next to one another. For the inexperienced, a pilsner is a type of pale lager. Pilsners are probably one of the most well-known beer styles, as most of your readily available bar beers (Bud, Coors, etc.) are categorized as such. Pilsners claim to have a distinct hop character, but they are usually malt forward and generally light in flavor. The term Imperial is used a lot in the world of craft beer these days. It originally denoted beer that was made in England and shipped to the Imperial court of Russia in the 1800’s. These days, it typically refers to a concoction that has been subjected to a flavor overhaul, with malts, hops, or other key ingredients often doubled or tripled in the brew. Naturally, imperial style ales are higher in alcohol from the more intense and prolonged fermentation process. So, terminology review complete, on to My Antonia. It is called a pilsner, which is normally a lighter tasting beer, but an Imperial pilsner, meaning amplified flavor across the board. Add in the fact that this is a continuously-hopped Imperial pilsner, and you find yourself with an interesting collection of beer buzz words, but also the makings of a very interesting drinking experience.

I have to admit that I approached this beer with some skepticism.  Pilsners in the craft beer game are few and far between, simply because of the association with the InBev empire, and because of their generally light flavor profile. This is not your typical pilsner. Chilled and poured from a 750mL bottle into an imperial pint glass, FOAM. Yeah, it was mostly operator error, as the bottle had been slowly inverted and rolled to incorporate visible sediment without enough time to settle, but make no doubt about it, this is a frothy beer. The pour is quite cloudy, with a beautiful light amber/straw color. A nose in the glass and a good whiff reveals a complex array of fragrances. This is a sweet smelling beer, with honey and wheat right on the nose. Dig deeper and an interesting note takes shape: pineapple. While this seems like a strange scent to find, it can probably be attributed to the hop variety used in the beer. It seemed like we were in store for a sweet, almost saison-esque experience, but we knew that there would be something beyond the first simple sniff.  After the foam was allowed to settle, a nice long pull revealed an effervescent, pleasant mouthfeel. It was definitely a familiar experience, as this fizzy quality is something to be expected from a pilsner-type beer, but what was different here was the fact that it had a distinct stickiness in the mouth; this is usually something that is experienced with highly hopped beers, but this time around, it was the malt flavors that lingered in the mouth. There was definitely sweetness to the front of the swig, but as it’s swallowed, a notable hop flavor emerges. Piney, dry and clean, this beer finished very much like a low IBU IPA. The taste could best be categorized as a fresh maple syrup flavor, sweet, but with a distinct earthy, pine-like flavor one would expect from a continually-hopped beer. After the glass was lowered, a truly ridiculous amount of thick, heavy lacing can be found all around the glass. But observe the lacing while you can, because the gaps between drinks will not last long.

I have to say, I approached this beer cautiously, but can now recommend it heartily. With a beautiful pour, unique flavor and a light, clean finish, this is a great beer for the warmer months that we now find ourselves in. Take a break from the saison overload, grab a big pint glass, and spend your balmy Louisville evening with My Antonia. You will not be disappointed.

- Josh Dolan

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Review: Founders DOOM

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It’s not often you come across an Imperial IPA that really stands out from the rest. The majority of IPAs are focused on pungent hoppiness and bitterness throughout the initial taste followed by a maltier after effect. Countless breweries craft beers with so many hop varieties, the hop taste almost gets lost in the palate overload and too many unique flavors are blended together. Each ingredient has to tell a story, and that story gets muddled if there is a confusion of flavors. That’s not the case with this brew. Founders Brewing Co. DOOM is an IPA for the ages, definitely breaking the IPA mold.

First a bit of history on this beer. Founders also makes a double IPA called Double Trouble using Summit hops for bittering and a blend of Simcoe and Amarillo for flavor. In order to craft DOOM, Founders ages Double Trouble in bourbon barrels for up to 4 months, bottling the ale in a 24.6 oz bottle.

I poured this beer at about 42 degrees fahrenheit and was immediately overtaken with the sweet smell of bourbon and a hint of hop. The pour is very mellow and has an orangish hue, with emerald, gold and blonde tones. Clarity is not as prominent compared to fresh beers but this is likely due to the bourbon barrel aging process adding a bit of cloudiness to the appearance. Head is very faint, likely due to the high alcohol content, roughly 1/2 inch but quickly disappears. When you put the beer up to light, no sediment is visible.

The initial fragrance has strong yet sweet scents of the bourbon and is quickly followed by a mellow after hint of hops. The hop smell is comparable to a hoppy red ale or even a single IPA that is not wet hopped. I like the transition of bourbon to IPA taste, and it reminds me of a barrel aged stout/imperial IPA black and tan. Bourbon is very sweet throughout the swig but IPA aftertaste is present.

As far as mouth feel is concerned, it’s a little tricky. The bourbon sticks to the tongue and throat throughout the drink, but the IPA qualities make the mouthfeel very full, bold and clean as an IPA should be. Aftertaste is very coarse and dry, similar to a red wine or barleywine.

Overall, this beer was quite a surprise. I was a bit leery at first as hops and bourbon don’t seem like likely partners in crime, but Founders hit this one out of the park. This beer can best be enjoyed on a chilly spring night with a relaxing cigar.

- Nick Jacobs

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Welcome Beer Lovers, One and All

Louisville Beer Bros was conceived as a forum for discussing, reviewing and generally fawning over all things beer related in the Louisville region. Though it was the brainchild of Nick Jacobs and myself, we’ll be collaborating with others – mostly our close friends and fellow connoisseurs – who are just as passionate about beer as we are. We’re new at this, and we have a lot to learn, but if there’s one thing we share, it’s a deep knowledge and appreciation of craft brews and a sincere desire to share that appreciation with others.

Like most people, we started out drinking beer in college and were mostly concerned with quantity over quality, but as time passed, we became aware of a burgeoning, vibrant craft beer environment in the city of Louisville. The last ten years have seen an explosion of local bars, shops and restaurants purveying some of the finest craft beers in the world. Of course, Louisville has always had a close relationship with mankind’s oldest alcoholic beverage. German immigrants in the 19th century brought with them centuries of brewing knowledge and an insatiable thirst. It’s no coincidence that some of the best restaurants and beer suppliers in the region are located in Germantown and run by the descendants of those immigrants.

But Louisville Beer Bros is about more than just reviews. Underlying our project is an abiding passion for beer as a part of the human condition and as one of the things that makes life great. Beer makes you happy, brings people together, is healthy in moderation and it tastes damn good. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “There can’t be good living where there isn’t good drinking.” Amen, Ben.

- Lee Cole

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