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Monday, July 14, 2014

Odd Side Ales' Pineapple IPA

  • Style: IPA (shocker, I know.  Here's another spoiler.  It has pineapple in it.  Shhh.)
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • Ease to locate: Michigan only.  Or do an ABV Chicago Podcast and maybe you'll get a parting gift too.   Or not. But you should definitely take something from their studio if they don't offer
  •  Color: Slightly hazy caramel tone with a hint of amber
  • Head: One & a half finger white head with great retention.  Uniform smear of lacing clinging to all sides of the glass
  • Aroma: Pineapple, a little lemon and pine with sweet malt as a backbone.  Nice but not extraordinary
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body.  Not dry, but also not syrupy.  Moderate carbonation
  • Finish: Medium. Pineapple fades quickly to a pine ending.
  • Food Friendly?: Yes.  Fruity IPAs are pretty easy to pair, especially in Summer.  Try this with something that will bring out the pineapple/fruit flavors like fish tacos, Chinese takeout or chicken with a tropical fruit salsa. 

Apple User's link: Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? No, the other guy.

                                                               Why are the theme songs from kid's cartoons such earworms?  It's got to have something to do with Hasbro, subliminal advertising & sugary cereal, right? 

About seven years ago I went to Hawaii for the first time.  I say "for the first time" because while I have no immediate plans to jet back to paradise any time soon, there is always the possibility that at any point I could come into some extra cash and decide to blow it on a freshly made Mai Tai.  For those of you who have never been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii, I suggest that you start saving your pennies now and make it happen. No where else on Earth can you visit a working winery, speak with real cowboys and stand on the top of a freaking active volcano all in the span of one day.  Plus, it's the place that taught me that pineapples do not, in fact, grow on trees.  I can't be the only Midwest city girl who thought this, right? (Right???  Oh, crap.  Never mind.)  My first view of an actual pineapple field left me amazed, a little bit sheepish and yes, rather hungry.  We ate fresh pineapple every day of our trip and by the time we left, I could slice up one blindfolded with a Lava Flow held firmly in one hand.   Hell, by the end of the trip, I could do most things with an umbrella drink in one hand.  It's a life skill.  What strikes me as funny is that the first pineapple forward beer I've encountered isn't from Kona Brewing (as far as I know, the only Hawaiian brewery out there, even if they operate partially out of New Hampshire), but from a relatively small brewery located in Grand Haven, Michigan. 

My Odd Side Ales' Pineapple Ale poured a hazy (without being juicy) caramel brown color with hints of orangey amber around the edges.  I'm not sure why I expected this IPA to be lighter in color but I did.  I suppose I assumed that it would look more like pineapple juice.  A solid one and a half finger head of white foam rose quickly in the teku glass (BTW- also swag from a gig on a different ABV Chicago podcast.  Next time I'm hoping for a pony.)  This IPA sported wonderful retention.  The thick foam took it's time to settle and produced a uniformly smear of lace circling the sides of the glass.  It was definitely a pretty pint (Teku.  Whatever.)  The aroma of fresh pineapple, sharply citrusy and very fruity, immediately hit my nose.   Odd Side Ales brews this beer with fresh pineapples and this nose gave me no problems with believing that some poor intern in Grand Haven is now as adept at carving one as I was.  A hint of lemon, some light pine and quite a bit of sweet malts rounded out the aroma..  It was a pleasant nose, but not particularly remarkable in it's complexity.  I was expecting a huge pineapple presence on the taste, but unfortunately I came away rather disappointed.  The pineapple flavor was there, at first.  It quickly faded from a tropical fruit forward beer to just your run of the mill basic IPA flavor profile.  After the pineapple note disappeared, all I could taste was the light pine hops and a semi strong malty backbone.  Just as on the nose, I was hoping for some sort of complexity, but personally found this IPA rather one note.  While I was well aware that this beer wasn't called Pineapple AND something else IPA, I couldn't help but wonder just how amazing this beer could have been with a bit of tweaking.  A secondary note of fruit, mango or nectarine spring to mind, could have given the flavor profile some needed depth while highlighting the tropical aspect  of the ale.  A moderate body that leaned neither too much towards being dry nor fell into the syrupy category that some IPAs (or especially many DIPAs) can find themselves in didn't really help with distinguishing this beer from a basic IPA.  The finish began with the tasty, yet fleeting, pineapple note and quickly faded into a lightly bitter and sweet tail.

IPAs, especially ones that are lower in ABV %, work wonderfully with food.   I would pair Odd Side Ales' Pineapple IPA with light summer dishes that could help bring out the fruity note in this beer.  Try it with  a Margarita inspired Fish Taco with Mango Salsa . The citrus forward Margarita mix and the fruity mango salsa should compliment the pineapple note in the beer (and possibly get the depth that I so wanted to find when drinking my glass.)  Alternatively, you could also drink it one night with some delicious  Chinese takeout.  I can easily see this IPA working with anything from sweet & sour shrimp to cashew chicken to vegetable lo mein.    Or if you wanted to  get your hands a bit dirty, prepare an easy Pineapple Chicken Stirfry  (with the inpired addition of Kiwi fruit) and a side of Homemade Potstickers.  Yeah, who knew that you could make those suckers yourselves?  In any case, I think that Odd Side Ales' Pineapple IPA  is one of those beers that will benefit greatly from being eaten with food.   Plus, popping a cap off of a bottle of beer is so much easier than coring a fresh, slippery when wet, pineapple.  With or without a Mai Tai in hand.