On a beautiful early summer afternoon in Iowa a bunch of coworkers decided that it would be the perfect time to cut out of work a little bit early and get some drinks for the ever-so-correctly named “happy hour.” Thankfully, the group’s consensus was that we drive down to Czech Village and quaff brews from Lion Bridge Brewing Company.
I have been to Lion Bridge before and I am a member of the “community supported ales” program, so my distinct interest was noted. The great thing about what is going on in this particular brewery is that different beers are being produced at a pretty good clip, with some disappearing after making a single appearance. This was the case with some mushroom inspired beers brewed to coincide with a local festival celebrating the morel mushroom season. This is the great thing about small, regional breweries putting out beers that are tuned so perfectly to what is happening in their local ecosystem.
It all started with a 12 ounce tulip of Iron Lion:
Thankfully, it was only a 12 ounce tulip because if I had been knocking back 20 ounce imperial pints things might have gotten ugly. The beer comes in at a hefty 8.2% ABV, but it does not drink that big. It is brewed with hibiscus and ginger. The ginger really comes through in a good way, but I think that the hibiscus is too delicate of a flavor to compete with the heavy alcohol.
Iron Lion was a great beer to enjoy on a sunny afternoon:
This beer confused me a little bit. Either it is trying to be an English pale ale or an American style IPA because I was getting hints of both styles of beer. I may be quibbling here about style. However, it is my opinion that an English ale will be malt forward and an American style IPA will be hop forward. Ryed in the English Countryside was trying to do both at the same time and something was lost in translation.
That being said it is still a good beer and my coworker who is not a big fan of American style IPAs was happy to drink imperial pints all afternoon long:
This is a steam or California Common beer, which is an odd style because it uses a lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures. It’s an American original and a west coast staple. I have a certain fondness for the style dating back to Anchor Steam being one of the earliest craft beer crushes that I had when great beer was hard to find.
Unfortunately, I found Usonius to have some of the bad traits associated with steam beers. Most notably, the flavors were really muddled and the aromas were distinctly burnt. This may have been a result of the malt profile or the beer style, but nonetheless it was a real letdown after the greatness of Iron Lion: