It’s been a little while since I’ve commented on the state of the canned beer industry; however, if you’ve looked around, it has only continued to grow like crazy. A lot of big beer companies are realizing that this isn’t a fad that is going away, so they have started canning some of their more popular beers. Next time you’re at a store, you may notice cans of Sierra Nevada – Torpedo or New Belgium – Fat Tire. The companies are finally starting to see that canning beers doesn’t quite have the same stigma it used to have. Yes there are still beers like Schlitz, Natty Boh, and PBR out there as well; however, they have started to seem fun and ironic to the hipster community. Even though a lot of these brews have been doing this for a while, it’s still nice to mention some of the craft breweries that helped create the swing towards canned beers.
Wild Onion Brewing Co started back around 1996; however, they expanded into their current capacity back in 2003. Located in Barrington, IL, they aren’t too far outside of the Chicago area. They state on their site that they brew their ales and lagers in a 6,000 square-foot brewery, cellar, and packaging complex, directly below the bar. Brewing directly below their own bar sounds pretty good to me. Ultimately this was the first beer I saw at the beer store I visited in Philly that I knew I absolutely wanted. A canned beer I’d never seen before, from a company I’d never heard of before, and with a big double IPA named hop slayer inside was a sure sell.
I’ve consumed a few different imperial IPAs out of a can before. Just the other day I had my first Hop Crisis from 21st Amendment. Aside from stouts, I think double/imperial IPAs are some of the most interesting beers to find in a can. Hop Crisis was great and I absolutely loved Oskar Blues Deviant Dales brew as well. Therefore, I had a lot of high hopes coming into this one. Wild Onion states that this ale, “is so full of malt and hops that you can almost chew on it”, which I only find more exciting. Coming in at 100 IBUs, it sounded like a perfect big craft canned beer.
This one pours a nice dark rich reddish color with some very light hints of orange. It’s slightly coppery for sure. There is some fairly plentiful white head that develops on top of the beer. Some really good lacing develops on the side of the glass after the swirl, and you get a ton of sticky residue hanging around. Although a little dark, it certainly seems to have a hazy tint to it. You don’t really see any carbonation, but you can see some significant activity in the glass when you agitate its contents.
The huge tangy hop aroma dominates the nose for sure. Combining with the tangy nature is some really big sticky sweet malts as well. There is definitely a lot of citrus that comes out. I think some of that may be due to a slight lemony quality the hops have to them. The tang and slight boozy aroma definitely combine for some certain thickness on the nose. You get some light fig, burnt sugar, and caramel mixing in there as well. There is certainly some nice big hops and malts mixing here.
I normally start my talk of the flavor by saying there are some nice sweet malts. This one instead decides to throw a tone of huge malts in right at the start to help create a hefty backbone for the upcoming onslaught of hops. There is a nice little hint of citrus that comes in; however, this is just a slight lead into the hops. The hops are not as huge as I was expecting. You assume all beers that reach 100 IBUs are going to smack you in the face with the hops. This one instead build up enough malts to really make the giant hop presence rather subdued. The hops have a nice blend of both the pine and floral flavors. I tend to think they lean more towards the tangy pine quality; however, the tang was bigger on the nose. There is some sweet caramel and interesting light fruity flavors that bring the beer in for a landing. The beer finishes with some of that residual hop and tang finish.
This is a really well-balanced big hop beer. The mouthfeel is fairly syrupy overall; however, the carbonation is lighter but consistent all the way through. The big malts help counteract the huge hops which help make this beer more drinkable for the moderate hop head out there. Lots of hops, tang, and sweet malts here.
All in all I would say this may be quite high on the list of double IPAs I’ve had. It is certainly a fine example of a great beer that can be found in a can. The hops have a big malty backbone to build on; however, the malt doesn’t bury the hops. The hops are still there for those who want to taste them, and yet, the beer is malty enough for someone who is only moderately a fan of the hops. I wish I could find a few more of these around by me in DC. If you see it out, I can not stress enough giving it a shot.
Teacher Grade: A