Tonight at Jungle Jim's, Christian from Two Brothers Brewing was in town to let us taste the brews and give tales behind each (much of which I cannot quote). They are a growing brewery in the Chicago area and have a good line of well balanced beers. There's nothing really over the top here, just good, honest beer with loads of character and flavor.
This evening's tasting was a bit of an oddity. The turn out was light and it started a bit late, yet it was done early. Normally we then talk in the store until they are shooing us out and then talk some more in the parking lot. But tonight, we were all done and gone by 10, even after I gave some of my homebrew out. Some are blaming it on our missing comrades, but who knows. Even speculation, on to the beers.
Dog Days Dortmunder Lager - 4.9% ABV, 27 IBU
Normally, I don't really go for the Dortmunder style. To me, it seems like a style that doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. This one was a bit different. On the nose, it was slight hops with hints of honey. Mid-tongue the noble hops came out to play. The finish was clean and refreshing. It definitely had you wanting more and is a nice summer beer.
Prairie Path - 5.1%, 28 IBU
This is what Coor's Banquet beer wants to be in its dreams. The Saaz hops is noticeable on the nose and throughout. There is some hop bitterness on the start and hints of peppercorn mid-tongue and on the finish. It has some Pilsner characteristics due to the use of noble hops, but it is an ale. Would make a nice session beer without getting sloshed.
Domain DuPage - 5.9%, 24 IBU
If there was ever a beer that would go with just about any food, this would be it. Malty from nose to finish due to the Crystal malt, this French Amber ale is all about enjoyment. The are some earthy tones mid and on the finish from the hops and the bitterness comes from the yeast. What hop presence there is balances the sweetness very well. Great balance on this one. I rated this one third best.
Bitter End - 5.2%, 36 IBU
Just about every craft brewery has a pale ale and Two Brothers final gave in and made one. It's name comes from the fact that the brewery held out "until the bitter end" before making one. This classic American Pale is all crystal malt and Cascade and Centennial hops. There are some Mount Hood hops dancing around in there too. With grapefruit on the nose, this one starts Cascade and gives way to malt and pine mid-tongue. The hop finish is a bit more pine than anything. The balance of all the flavors is again noticed. Not too bad.
Cane & Ebel - 7.0%, 68 IBU
Ever wonder what it would be like to make a Red Rye beer and add Thai Palm Sugar? Well, wonder no more and get this beer. I'm not sure of the bittering hop, but Summit is used in the last 3-5 minutes of the boil and during the dry hop. The result is a beer with hop and palm sugar on the nose, pine and grapefruit mid and a hoppy finish. The rye malt goes along for the ride and sometimes plays referee amongst all the other flavors and tones. This one is a wild ride for the mouth. I rated this one second.
Hop Juice - 9.9%, 122 IBU
Yeah, you read that right, 122 IBU, but this one does not have the bitterness to punch you in the mouth and steal your lunch money like a DogFish Head 120 might. Simcoe hops are used in the bittering and Amarillo on the flavor, but the abundant use of Crystal malts brings a balance rarely seen in an Imperial IPA. Very smooth and enjoyable. This was my pick for best beer of the night.
Bare Tree Weiss - 10%
Unlike the others, this beer is brewed with the same recipe every year. That means, no tweaking based on the current year's hop alphas and barley starch yields. This particular one was 10%, but no idea on IBU. Made with a wheat base (57%) and German hops, this barley wine is like none other I've ever had. Close your eyes and sniff and one would swear there was white wine in the glass. Grape and rye flavors dance around the tongue while sampling. Let it warm a bit and other spices start to come alive. Not a fan, but very unique.
Bonfire - 6.2%, 15 IBU
This aged Dunkel Weiss pours dark and fizzy. Meant to warm your backside when you are sitting in front of a bonfire, this beer starts with bananas and gives chocolate mid. Hop presence is very slight and no bitterness. A smooth dark beer for those who are afraid of the dark.
Red Eye - 9.3%
Ethiopian coffee beans are roasted and used in fermentation of this beer. The result is a strong coffee aroma and taste, without the caffeine. One would need to drink several bottles of this to get to a single cup of coffee. Mid-tongue, the malts become noticeable. The finish is clean. This one is for the coffee lover. This one I put fourth, just behind Domain DuPage.
All around, the beers were very good and very well balanced. The only negative I have is that their website sucks. Come on guys, get off FrontPage and make a real site. If you need help, please let me know.