Three of the Midwest’s off-kilter beer offerings
By Kevin Sterne
Given that the Chicago craft beer market is so saturated with pale ales, I’ve been on a mission to find beers that don’t carry the typical “hoppy” and “citrus” descriptors. Don’t get me wrong, I love pale ales. Those beers are fun, and plenty of Chicago breweries have rolled out solid, if not spectacular pale ales, including some of my favorite IPAs on the planet. But, to appreciate these delightfully pungent and citrusy brews, it helps to diversify. Last week I drank nothing but adjunct lagers. And got really, really sick. This week I’m trending back to the craft beers, but not just any beers. These are beers that tickle the tastes buds with somewhat off-the-wall flavors.
Lionstone Brewing’s Back 40 Peanut Butter
Brewed in Geneseo, Illinois
Sink your teeth into this prideful peanut butter-packed brew that demands to be served in a repurposed Smuckers jar. You’ll have the lion share of high-brow hipster nod when you aptly pointing out that this beer tastes like Ritz Bitz crackers. “Your taste is so refined,” they’ll say, “this Wicker Park brunch is divine, I wish there some musical equivalent to this, perhaps on bandcamp.” But the best part about sipping this scrumptious peanut-butter-infused nectar? It doesn’t get stuck to the roof of your mouth.
OddSide Ales’ Passion Juice
Harvested in Grand Haven, Michigan
These aptly-titled OddSide brew keepers have pollinated a flavor fusion in full blossom. Result: botanical brew that lends more than just a floral aroma. The passion fruit is potent yet pleasant, both in the smell and the taste. A full depth of flavor in this one, including a biscuit mash, though it is light on the malt. Still, a heartier and more refreshing beer than some other flowery ales out there. Sprinkle this little flower into a tulip glass for maximum pollination. And remember to save the bees.
Revolution Brewing’s Rosa
Pollinated in Chicago
Another pollinated brew, this one features Hibiscus flowers and a touch of orange peel. This one pours a golden amber, is light in body and delightfully drinkable, especially for an ABV north of 5%. I could go on about the sensual flowers, the delicate arrangement of aromas and the silky-smooth flow of this nectar. But I’ll leave that to you. Enjoy.
Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago, the editor of LeFawn Magazine. Apart from Shuga Records, he’s written about beer and music for Mash Tun Journal, The Tangential and Substream Magazine. His creative fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Potluck Mag, Defenestration, Praxis Magazine, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Word Eater, among many others.