Review by: Kevin Sterne
Pipeworks Brewing Company and Dark Matter Coffee are two institutions of experimentation in Chicago, consistently twisting tongues and bending palates with S’mores and Chile flavored lagers and hop-infused roasters, respectfully. The two cross pollinate the other’s nectar on many occasions; DM releases beans aged in Pipeworks barrels during holidays. In turn Pipeworks has brewed several coffee-forward beers: Dark Matter Machine Coffee Cream Ale and Grand Guignol: Act Two Oatmeal Stout.
For their latest sexual intermingling, they invited a third party, 18th Street Brewery. The child of this threesome—Attack of the Devil’s Lettuce, whose name and artwork alone raise expectations as high as a Wicker Park hipster’s brow. ADL is ultra-dank, coffee-infused imperial IPA that leaves the tongue pulsating from so much flavor arousal.
My tongue felt how my brain does when heavily caffeinated. I was wired to everything. And with so much going on in this beer, the stimulation can be a bit overwhelming. But I’ll break it down in simple terms:
• Look: No filtering leaves this golden child hazy and deep amber.
• Smell: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. Some hops, a bit of malt. But mostly Coffee, Coffee, Coffee.
• Taste: A tome of flavor. Coffee in the front accented by tones of peppercorn, lemon, orange peel. The Sorachi Ace hops lend intense Earthy flavors, giving the swallow a pucker of vegetables plucked from the soil—maybe lettuce? This makes for a flavor clash that’s difficult to reconcile.
• Feel: Big and bulbous, with noticeable alcohol.
• Overall: The bomber size demands two mouths. Full disclosure: I didn’t finish the whole thing, there too many flavors fighting for attention, making the drink experience more taste chore than drinkation.
While this three-pronged sexual conquest may have resulted in some tainted birth flued, this is by no means a bad brew. There’s a lot for the tongue to touch, and if you can get your slimy paws on it, pick up the Brain Tentacles and Wild Jesus & The Devil’s Lettuce record to stimulate your audio nodes in conjunction. A droning chamber of bass, sax and metal darkness pulled from the murky pools of Lou Reed’s long ago Berlin. Stir the brew and the tunes in a cauldron and puff on your devil’s lettuce. Now THAT is a sensory orgasm.
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.