When I first heard that one of my favorite breweries, Chicago's Metropolitan
had collaborated with another Chicagoland purveyor of suds, Two Brothers Brewing
, I was ambivalent. This is no slight against Two Brothers. I've only tasted one of their beers
so I am still very much developing my opinion of them. No, my bit of apprehension was due to the fruit of their collaboration, False Dichotomy
, is an India Pale Lager.
What exactly constitutes an IPL is debatable. It's whatever the brewer labels as such. Still, I tend to think of the style as being a lager whose primary hop flavor or flavors are not those of Noble hops, i.e. - the hops have the taste of fruits and flowers. Perhaps my apprehension is completely irrational as I've consumed IPLs before and they were plenty fine. But I just can't help but shudder when I see the word "India" on beer label. It's a Pavlovian thing. It's a dislike of trendiness thing. I fear that I'll see Metro's brewmaster Doug Hurst dressed like he's in Ultravox courting the ironically mustachioed outside 1871 with his new India Pale Dunkel called USB Charger that is dry hopped with nameless experimental hops that smell like corpse flowers and taste like guava Jolly Ranchers.
I trust that his co-proprietor Tracy Hurst would put the kibosh on such a thing should this nightmare scenario ever come close to fruition.
Despite all this, I went out and bought a six pack when the bier was released earlier this month.
False Dichotomy, contrary to my photograph, pours a nice yellow – much lighter than my poor picture suggests. It was nice and clear with a big crown of soft, white foam. There were bubbles aplenty inside making their way up my glass.
If the bier looked like your typical pilsner, then the first sign that all was not as it appeared came in the aroma. Not knowing what hops were used I was surprised to smell some very spicy/grassy hops along with a touch of honeyed sweetness. Nothing out of the ordinary so far. That is until I noticed a rather floral hop scent that reminded me of Amarillos in its sweetness.
So Two Brothers and Metro had opted to not give us something from way out in left field; there was still some Central European tradition to be found in the bier which perhaps explains its name.
I noticed that honey-like malt sweetness on my tongue first. False Dichotomy is 7.2% A.B.V. so it's hardly surprising that the grains assert themselves. Being a lager, it has a clean flavor which lets not only the malts but also what must be an arsenal of hops compete for the drinker's attention. Initially it was that floral thing from the nose that hit me. Not overpowering but distinctive. Then further in the background was a mellow fruity/melon-like hop taste. This, presumably, came from the German Huell Melon hops, a rather new variety. Towards the end the hop flavor changed again into something more traditional – a Noble peppery taste. Amidst all this was a modicum of carbonation.
False Dichotomy finished with the peppery/spicy hoppiness developing into a bitter vortex of dryness, tasting a lot like a Czech pilsner. As I'd expect from a pils, my glass was left with some great Schaumhaftvermoegen
with big streaks all around.
False Dichotomy is a fairly big bier being 7.2% A.B.V. but it's medium-light body makes it drink easier than similar brews appellated with another dreaded I-word – imperial. The bier really takes you for a ride with its hops. Noble hop flavors sit astride nouveau Central European ones. All things considered, False Dichotomy isn't that bitter a bier. While it is hoppy all the way through, it doesn't get bitter until the end. And I really appreciated that the malt was always there no matter where I was on the hop roller coaster.
Despite the many good things about this bier, I remain ambivalent about it. I'm undecided about the strong, bitter spicy hops next to the mellow melon ones. Individually these flavors are quite tasty but next to and melding into one another, well, I'm just not sold on the idea. I drank most of a six pack trying to decide – and believe me, I did not have to be restrained and have the bier poured down my throat - yet remain on the fence.
Junk food pairing: try some jalapeno popper stuffed pretzel bites with your False Dichotomy. Just as the bier blends the New and Old Worlds so do these pretzels with traditional Bavarian pretzel goodness surrounding a tender center of spicy cheese gluttony.
Labels: Beer, India Pale Lager, IPL, Metropolitan Brewing, Two Brothers Brewing