On Small Business Saturday following my trip to the NewBo City Market I made my way over to Benz Beverage Depot to see what looked good on the wall of beer. The little bottles from Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville looked enticing.
I have seen these little bottles in six packs at several stores in the area, but never pulled the trigger. What got me this time was that one of the seasonal brews—Cornucopia—was available. How can a good Iowa resident pass up a beer made with corn? So, I ended up with two six packs of beer: one each of Cornucopia and Hop Wrangler.
Corn is considered an adjunct in beer and, in general, it gets a bad rap because it is associated with cheap mass market beers. However, if all we did as beer aficionados was follow the edicts of the Bavarian Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot)we would end up with beers that only contained water, barley, hops, and yeast. Corn is just another ingredient in the toolkit of the craft brewer.
In this case the results are not promising for corn. Cornucopia comes across a little thin with minimal carbonation. I gave the beer the benefit of the doubt on the carbonation, but bottles two and three were no different. It’s not that I want a beer to be overly carbonated or bursting with artificial bubbles of carbon dioxide, but near flat beers seem to have less life to them in terms of flavor.
Additionally, the beer is overly sweet without a balance of hop bitterness. Some people like their beer this way, but I would prefer more balance. It’s one of the reasons I have avoided brewing up a batch of either homebrew recipe from the White House. Too much sugar for my blood.
Hop Wrangler was a different story:
This is what I consider to be a well-crafted American-style IPA. Before hop bombs and the obsession with going to the stratosphere in terms of IBU, the American-style IPA was about using non-traditional hops and new methods to break out of stereotypical molds. Obviously, this was in the early years of the craft beer movement and the frontier has moved farther afield but there is a place for a well-balanced American-style IPA.
Hop Wrangler is dry hopped for aroma and you get a real whiff of that when your nose enters the glass. It is not overpowering by any means and the bitterness of the actual beer is not overpowering either so the effect is appreciated. Dry hopping is a nice touch when it is done to a level that is not like a punch in the face that is followed by a bitterness in the beer that is like getting strangled. Too much of a good thing is definitely possible when it comes to hops.
Batting .500 is pretty good and it left me wanting to try what else the folks at Peace Tree Brewing are up to in Knoxville, Iowa.