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Monday, June 30, 2014

Toppling Goliath Hop Patrol Series: ZeeLander IPA

  • Style: IPA
  • ABV: 5.5% (yes, you read that right.) Honestly, it's just so dang refreshing to see anything with the letters IPA in it that is under 7%
  • Ease to locate: Sold mainly in Iowa but can also be found in some parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Why no love for Illinois, TGB???  They do have a Beer Locator on their website and are pretty good with updating their deliveries via their Facebook page and their Twitter account
  • Color: Slightly hazy amber gold with a syrup sort of look to it.  Almost honey in appearance with some yeast floaties
  • Head: Gorgeous.  Two finger, fluffy, ivory head with wonderful retention.  Lots of creeping lacing. 
  • Aroma: Distinct Nelson Savin hops right on the front (leaning towards the grapefruit element here) Bit of lemon & floral bitterness, cereal sweetness and with some dank earthiness layered in.  Not a huge nose, but an effective one.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body with well balanced carbonation
  • Finish: Medium. Begins with Nelson Savin elements sliding into the earthy dankness then fading to a citrus/floral forward ending
  • Food friendly: Yes.  Think Summer favorites that already have a bit of brightness built into them, like summer Pasta Primaveria, berry accented salads or bar-b-que shrimp.  

 Apple user's link:  This is NOT a direct indication on anyone I should know (or be related to) from the great state of Iowa. Unless it is. You know who you are.

                                                                              There's nothing half way about the Iowa way to treat you when we treat you which we may not do at all.  You really ought to give Iowa a try.

I don't have a large immediate family.  People may get this impression because, while we are not extraordinary in number, we do tend to mull together more often than not and it's very easy to lose count that way.  I am, however, related to at least half of Des Moines  (and the other half probably drinks with my half anyway.)  My mom has exactly one sister.  And this sister beget seven children.  Who beget like a million scions.  The summer vacations of my youth were spent rolling around in the back of a blue Chevy station wagon as we drove through corn field after corn field (after another fraking corn field!), crossing the great Missip and finally arriving hot, tired and cranky at the door of my poor, poor aunt.  So when I first heard about this small, yet intriguing, brewery out of Decorah, Iowa, I was a bit skeptical.  Iowa was the state fair with deep fried (insert anything and everything here).   Iowa was fishing in the Skunk River and never catching anything.  Iowa was a soft serve cone from the Dairy Queen in Beaverdale.  It certainly wasn't a craft beer mecca.  Well, it wasn't until Toppling Goliath Brews opened it's brewery doors that is.  They are from I-oway.

I was lucky enough that one of my cousins smuggled a few bottles of Toppling Goliath over the Mississippi for my drinking pleasure recently.  ZeeLander is their lesser known brew (Pseudo Sue is their world class APA and an absolute revelation to drink fresh.)  ZeeLander poured the color of honey; a golden amber liquid with a syrupy look to it.  I could see bits of yeast floating around inside.  A perfectly beautiful two finger light ivory, very fluffy head formed which left behind generous amounts of thick lacing creeping up the sides of the glass.  The head's retention was amazing.  Basically, imagine your perfect version of an IPA head and ZeeLander delivered.  The nose was not huge, but it was extremely effective.  I could identify the Nelson Savin hops right off the bat.  Nelson Savin hops are known for their wine like characteristics, but they also can emit a grapefruit note at times and it was the almost orangey/grapefruit that hit me first.   It was followed by a citrus (lemon) brightness and a hint of cereal sweetness.  And at 80 IBUs its sort of your basic agreesive IPA blueprint, right?  But then this dank, wet earth scent crept in.  The best way to explain it was the smell of forest dirt just after a summer rain.  This wet earth dankness really shone in the taste however.  The citrus element of grapefruit, lemon and a bit of mandarin oranges was wonderfully counter balanced by a hint of grainy sweetness and the wet earth note.  Huge, hoppy IPAs are a dime a dozen nowadays.  I loved that TGB thought outside the box and brewed a grounded sort of beer, without compromising the expected (and adored) IPA qualities.  There was a bit of floral mixed into the over all flavor profile, but not enough to overpower the big picture.  A medium body that boasted just enough carbonation to cut through the flavors worked extremely well.  I half expected a slightly syrupy mouthfeel because of the honeyed appearance and was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.   A moderate finish began with the Nelson Savin notes, slid into the earthy dankness and faded with a lightly citrus/floral bitterness on the end.     
ZeeLander Is a part of Toppling Goliath Brewing's Hop Patrol Series which features beers brewed with single hop varieties.  It would be easy enough for them to just brew a straight forward IPA that showcases the oh so trendy Nelson Savin hop and be done with it.  Everyone and their cousin would be like "Oh, its Nelson Savin hopped!  I feel so in the know and beer geeky right now."  (Come on.  You know you would.  Yeah, I'm talking to you.  The guy with the neck beard.)  But luckily for those of us who could get their grubby little hands on a bottle of this lovely beer, TGB used their Iowan stubbornness to create something a bit more than that.  I would serve ZeeLander with a bowl of Summer Vegatable Pasta Primavera. The dankess of the beer will compliment the unami flavor of the morel mushrooms and the citrus forward of the hops will help bring out the freshness of your farmer's market booty.  Alternatively, cook up a mess of Bar B Que Shrimp one night  and watch as the white wine in the sauce brings out the Nelson Savin notes to the 9th degree.  I've already got this year's trip to Des Moines on the books and am looking forward to it for all the usual reasons.  This is the first year that I will be bringing an empty suit case ready to be filled with bombers of fermented goodness, however.  You can keep your fancy trips to Belgium and Germany.  You say that you're heading out to New York or LA?  Eh.  I'm going to Iowa.  Try not to drool.