Before I even begin talking about Toppling Goliath I want everyone out there to know that I am a fan. This was not the first time I have had either of these beers—usually it’s on tap and imbibed after a long day on the bicycle—and I am a big fan of Decorah, Iowa in general.
Decorah is a small town in northeast Iowa that is home to Luther College and a surprising bike culture. The good folks at Decorah Human Powered Trails maintain a sweet network of singletrack that will kick your ass if you do not respect the surprising topography of the region. Recently, the Trout Run Trail—an eleven mile paved loop through town—was completed and it looks sweet. Heck, even some of the people at Surly Bikes are down with Decorah.
To top it all off, Decorah is also the home of Toppling Goliath. It’s a small brewery that only recently started to self-distributing bottles in the region. Today I am going to talk about Dorothy’s New World Lager and pseudoSue.
Dorothy’s New World Lager is a steam beer or California common:
Usually beer is separated by what yeast it uses and steam beer is no different in that it uses lager yeasts. However, unlike most lagers which are fermented at cooler temperatures, steam beers are fermented at temperatures considered to be optimal for ale yeasts. It’s a little bit of technical beer brewing talk, but the result is a beer that is hard to classify as either an ale or a lager so it occupies a sort of middle space between the two camps.
This is the beer that got me started on Toppling Goliath several years ago when I ran across a tap at a bar in Iowa City. A steam beer from Iowa? Bring it on!
Dorothy’s is a great beer to pair with just about anything. No single flavor or aroma comes across as overpowering and the middling alcohol means you can have a few without stumbling around like a hipster on a PBR bender.
It is, however, best enjoyed under certain circumstances. My suggestion is to spend the better part of a hot summer day struggling through that sweet singletrack I mentioned earlier and topping the afternoon with a few pints pulled at the Toppling Goliath taproom. It’s about the perfect way to spend a day in Iowa.
pseudoSue is an entirely different beast:
First off, this is a beer that you have to hunt down in bottles. What do I mean by that? Fans watch the Facebook page of Toppling Goliath for deliveries and scurry to buy up their limit. Two bottles is never enough.
Second, it’s a beer I wait for a quiet moment to enjoy. Why? It might be my favorite beer in the entire world right now. Sorry, Coffee Bender from Surly Brewing but you have been replaced atop the mountain. Fear not, for I will buy many cans of Coffee Bender on my next trip north but I do not anticipate drinking you quite like I do pseudoSue.
This beer is a showcase for the Citra hop and boy do you ever get a wallop of that particular profile. In terms of both aroma and flavor this beer is Citra through and through, but it drinks clean enough that you are never left with a mouthful of lingering flavors. Each drink is like a gift of perfectly balanced beer.
If you get a chance to buy a bottle—which is just pure chance unless you stalk the Facebook page—or see it in tap you will be glad that you ordered a pint in lieu of other less worthy beers.
I like this beer so much that it is the basis for my attempts to create a “house pale ale” to be on tap in my keezer at all times. More on the first experiment to come later in the week.
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