Fearful Symmetries

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09 August, 2015

At the Bottom of a Dark Wisconsin Lake: Headless Man Amber Alt by Tyranena Brewing Co.



After my disappointing experience with Port Huron's Amber Alt I decided to follow my whim and keep on the altbier path. Surely there must be a tasty one outside of Düsseldorf. Next up was Headless Man Amber Alt from Tyranena.

Tyranena was founded in 1998 which makes them pretty ancient in Madison area craft brew world. To put it in Lord of the Rings terms, Capital, founded in 1984 or '85, is like Ilúvatar. It was there at the beginning. (And doesn't Kirby Nelson look like ol' Eru?) Brewmaster Rob Larson and his minions over in Lake Mills, about 25 miles east of Madison, are like one of the Ainur who, along with others, sang the sweet microbrew song in the 90s (and 2000) to give us the craft beer world we have today. The brewery has a nice tasting room and also a fine outdoor area. It's a friendly atmosphere with hounds running around and people having a jolly time. It's been a while since I've been there but their chili cook-offs were a hoot.

Headless Man pours a beautiful amber as opposed to the more traditional copper. It is clear and effervescent. My photo shows the nice tan head my pour produced and there was a fair amount of bubbles in the glass going up, up, up! The aroma was very sweet-smelling with both caramel and fruity – like plum - scents present.

Considering the aroma I was surprised by the flavor. It had a slight fruity/apricot sweetness and a dryness from the carbonation, was readily apparent, and the mix of German hop varieties. I found it to be a bit watery and light on malt flavor. The beer didn't taste like it had been lagered or at least not lagered long enough. Like Port Huron's altbier, Headless Man had a medium body but was remarkably lacking in malt flavor. I found this to be blatantly odd because I've never known a Rob Larson brew to be lacking in flavor. It may be flavors I don't want to taste but a watery beer from him? Unheard of.

Headless Man finished dry with a lingering spicy hoppiness and left some really nice Schaumhaftvermoegen on my glass.

Sadly, this was another drain pour. I've had Headless Man before and I don't recall it tasting like this. I think I must have hit an unlucky altbier streak. Maybe Woodman's singles cooler malfunctioned. It was just too watery and those fruit flavors just didn't belong. Something must have gone awry down in Lake Mills. Hopefully my memory isn't playing tricks on me. because I thought that, when things are going right, this is a tasty, malty brew. At 5.25% A.B.V. it's a bit bigger than the classic altbier and approaches sticke alt potency.

Junk food pairing: As with Port Huron's curiously similar altbier, I'd pair Headless Man with steak-flavored potato chips like Ruffles MAX Flame Grilled Steak chips or Herr's Kansas City Prime Steak flavored chips. The latter are or were to be had at Woodman's East along the opposite side of the dairy aisle wall.

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|| Palmer, 7:11 PM

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