Friday, February 22, 2008

Beer of the Week

I know that I am somewhat heavy on the Wisconsin beers on this blog, but what can I say: it's the land of my birth, and it happens to make some damn good beers.

I am relocating soon, from Madison to Minneapolis, so the beer will probably take on a more national beer scene scope, but fear not, many quality Midwest beers will still be featured.

With all that said, our beer of the week once again comes from Wisconsin, this time from Rush River Brewing in River Falls, near the Twin Cities on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Rush River was founded by two native Midwesterners, Dan Chang from Milwaukee, and Nick Anderson from Minneapolis.

I first encountered Rush River while living in Minneapolis a few years back. I saw an Amber Ale I had never seen before on tap at a local watering hole. I asked the bartender about it, and he said he wasn't sure, but thought that it was from Minnesota. I took a gamble and was pleasantly surprised by the balanced character of this delicious American Amber.

Fast forward a few years, and I get an email from a loyal BOTB reader:

"Have you ever heard of Rush River? Their Bubblejack IPA is awesome! Pick up a sixer when you get a chance!"

Whoa, whoa, whoa. IPA? Sixer? These were things I had never seen from Rush River. It became a mission to investigate. I was passing through Hudson, Wisconsin (also near the MN-WI border), and stopped at a liquor store to check the local wares. Sure enough, Rush River's "Bubblejack IPA" greeted me on the shelves.

Bubblejack, although it sounds more like a "Cannabis Cup" winning strain than a beer, is truly representative of the India Pale Ale style. It pours an unfiltered cloudy orange color with a minimal white head. The smell is fainter than some IPAs you'll come across, but the hoppy aromas of grapefruit and floral citrus are definitely there.

The taste is very well balanced, with the hops standing loud and proud, but not slapping you in the face. We all know that an IPA should be well hopped, which Bubblejack is, but it isn't like some beers that hit you over the head with a hop-mallet. There are some notes of graham and bread in there, and a subtle malt body too. At 6% ABV, this IPA is definitely right in the alcohol range of the style.

Judged against other IPAs, it's not as fragrant as it could be, and perhaps just slightly (ever so slightly) over-carbonated, but the balance is perfect, and the body and overall complexity of the flavor are awesome.

Cheers to Rush River; hopefully we'll be seeing more of your quality brews around in the near future.

Links of Interest:

Rush River

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