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Monday, February 11, 2013

Lagunitas Brewing Co.'s Lagunitas Sucks

  • Style:American Double Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 7.85%
  • Season: Year Round (yes, you heard me, it's now YEAR ROUND!)  EDIT- Lagunitas just announced today that they will soon be selling this in 32 oz bottles.
  • Ease to locate: Well distributed in mainland USA.  But in my experience it files off the shelves.  Grab it when you see it.
  • Color: Golden yellow with hints of orange amber
  • Head: Two finger head with wonderful lacing
  • Aroma: Piney hops, grapefruit and toast
  • Mouthfeel: Medium with a good amount of carbonation
  • Finish: Long and hoppy
  • Food friendly:  Yeppers.  Go beyond the basic grilled meat and try it with salmon or other oily fish.   Plays well with an abundance of cheeses.   Perfect for a mixed cheese course: Montary Jack (Peppery), Camembert (Pungent) and Cheddar (Sharp)
Some people take themselves way too seriously.  Some beers do this too.  When I was just a kid, my mother would tell me that I had a "dry" sense of humor.  As a ten year old, I wasn't really sure what the meant.  Nowadays, it's one of the qualities that I search for in a person.  If you don't understand my sarcastic humor or love of the absurd, well, we might as well part ways right now because I'm just going to end up annoying the hell out of you before too long (we're talking hours, not days.)  This might be why Lagunitas Brewing Co. is one of my absolute favorite domestic breweries.  They get me.

Golden Boy in a glass


OK.  Lagunitas also makes pretty damn good beers too.  I like to think of them as the Bonnie Hunt of beers: well balanced, self effacing and always with one foot firmly planted in Chicago.  This April, Lagunitas will officially open a brewpub here in the Windy City, with plans to build and operate a second brewery on the same site to open in September (their original Petaluma, CA facility will remain open.)  The brewery is going to be sharing some property at Cinespace with various TV shows and movies that film here.  I'll be interested to see if their beer somehow leaks into scenes.  I mean, if Two Brothers can show up on Whitney, think what Langunitas can do for an actual semi decent TV show?

                                                                                       Bonnie Hunt & Fabio.Life doesn't get any better than this

The legend behind Lagunitas Sucks demonstrates exactly why I love this brewery.  Two years ago, they released a special holiday beer named Brown Shugga.    And a mighty tasty beer it was.  Or so I've been told.  For you see, this beer proved to be as popular as an insecure  college cheerleader at a high school  prom.  It flew off the shelves, leaving a large mass of disgruntled and thirsty craft beer fans, well, disgruntled and thirsty.  Lagunitas, in their infinite wisdom, decided to strike while the iron was hot and released what they called Lagunitas Sucks: Brown Shugga Substitute Ale.    You've got to love a brewery that acknowledges what everyone is thinking when they shoot death stares at the poor liquor store employee who stupidly decided not to call in sick that day.  Their disappointment was short lived, because substitute or not, Sucks proved to be the Godfather 2 of beers.  It was just as good, if not better, than the original.  This year, Lagunitas put it in as a year round offering.  And angels sang in the heavens.

Hop in, the head's fine
 

My Lagunitas Sucks poured a deep gold straw color with hints of orange when held to the light.  A well carbonated, two finger, ivory head rose to the surface.  Lovely light lacing adhered to all sides of the pint glass. It settled nicely as the beer sat, but still retained the wonderful lacing throughout the drink.  To say it poured a pretty pint is an understatement.  It was like King Midas in a glass.  A powerful aroma of fresh pine rose from the head.  I could pick out under notes of grapefruit and a bit of toast as well.  This was the kind of beer that you could smell from a mile away.  I was almost frightened to take a sip because of the aggressive nose, but I was certainly glad I summoned the courage to do so.   At first taste, I could certainly denote the fresh hoppy resin flavor, but the zest of grapefruit quickly corrected the chinook hops course.   A welcome delegation of caramel malts arrived just behind the bigger notes of the resin and citrus. I could pick out some orange zest and almonds as well.  What struck me as impressive was that it was very obvious that some serious consideration had gone into the flavor profile of this "substitute' beer (the current year's release is no longer a real substitute, but a beer released on its' own merits.  However, I've been told that the flavor profile differed very little from the year before.)   The mouthfeel was a solid medium with good carbonation.  I personally think that a beer can get away with a more aggressive profile as long as the mouthfeel and carbonation backs it up.   The finish was long with a back note of bitter hops emerging once again in the end, as if to remind you who exactly was boss (and we all know that Angela really was the boss.)

Check out that ring of lacing
 
This is the sort of beer that could elevate a mundane weeknight dinner.  For all of it's power, I find Sucks extremely food friendly.   Try it with a a simple lemon and onion scented roasted chicken with root vegetables cooked in the poultry's own juices.  Or break out of the chicken/beef rut and grill a salmon fillet with brown sugar, lemon and garlic.  There's quite a debate over the label for Sucks.  Some see the red splat as paint ball that was hurled in protest over the lack of Brown Shugga.  Others think that it's a tomato thrown at Lagunitas in shame (I'm in this camp.)  And there are those, some what deranged few, who insist that the red splatter is Santa Claus, or what's left of him, after being pushed from a great height (the original label depicted a star-like Santa on it, but still, really?  A dead Santa is what you get here?   If this is you, please click here. )  Whatever the label actually means and no matter how awkward you might feel (or might not feel, no judgement here) asking a bartender for a "Sucks",  give this fine, well balanced brew a try.  In fact, I think that this is the perfect craft beer to drink with your non craft beer, Bud Light-is-healthier, Corona-is-a-real-Mexican-Beer  swilling buddies  I mean, this way at least you all can imbibe with something that "sucks."