Fearful Symmetries

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20 April, 2016

Septemdecies Pro Cheeseheadibus: 17UP by Pearl Street Brewery



I recall making a trek to La Crosse while in high school and seeing the World's Largest Six Pack wondering all the while just how much beer the massive tanks could hold. At that time they were still painted to look like Old Style cans, Old Style being my starter beer back when I was a pre-teen. You see, the father of a couple friends of mine kept a refrigerator full of it and some of those cans made their way into our grubby little hands. While the glory days of G. Heileman Brewing are long gone, the Pearl Street Brewery is celebrating 17 years of microbrewing this year on the banks of the Mighty Mississipp.

I tend to think of Pearl Street as being a small brewery that generally flies under the radar. I've reviewed a couple of their beers and enjoyed them but they don't have a signature beer whose name transcends mere trends and is known throughout Wisconsin. Pearl Street doesn't have a Spotted Cow or Hopalicious. Or perhaps it does and I just don't know it.

Regardless, Pearl Street is doing quite alright. Indeed, it is looking to expand their business. And to celebrate the big 1-7, they've brewed a selection of special brews: Wakin' Bacon Breakfast Beer, Stressed & Bitter Belgian-Style Pale Ale, Citrye IPE, Haggis Barrel Aged Scotch Ale, and 17UP Anniversary Gose. That's my understanding, anyway. I've seen only Citrye IPA and 17UP in bottles, however, and I gave the latter a try recently.

It was perfect weather for a light-bodied, tart, citrusy beer, i.e. – perfect gose weather. But 17UP is no ordinary gose. Instead of the usual salt & coriander, this bier was brewed with "natural lemon and lime essences". As far as what constitutes "essences" with regards to food labeling, I'm not sure, but it doesn't appear that the brewer, to paraphrase Taggart in Blazing Saddles, went and got a shitload of lemons and limes.

17UP pours a very turbid yellow. I got a nice, albeit small, frothy white head which, sadly, went away rather quickly. There was a middling number of bubbles in the bier heading upwards. Unfortunately, my fancy-schmancy glassware has been packed so I didn't have a stange to make the bier look all pretty for you. Still, it appeared quite temptingly qauffable, if you ask me.

When you're thinking to yourself, "17UP. I get it. It's a play on 7UP." and then go to smell a bier, it's difficult not to smell the soda. Such is the suggestible nature of the human mind. And so my first sniff of 17UP smelled exactly like 7UP. Or how I remember it smelling, anyway. It was a big, sweet burst of lemon-lime. I also caught some citrusy lactobacillus sour in the background.

Unsurprisingly, the taste of 17UP reminded me of 7UP's except it wasn't sweet – thankfully – and tasted more like fresh fruit than the soda. Lime was the predominant citrus flavor. This is not a maxi-sour bier as the lactic tartness really took a back seat to the fruit essences. But the bier was still quite pleasingly tangy with a subtle lemony bite. I was able to taste the salt but only just. Coriander was M.I.A. but I'm not sure if this is because of my tongue or it was left out of the mix to give the lime and lemon gustatory supremacy. If it was there, it was mild.

17UP's relatively tame tartness lingered into the finish as did the dynamic lime-lemon duo. But what stuck around longest was a really mild salinity. No Schaumhaftvermoegen was left on my glass.

17UP's label notes "Back in 1999, our fledgling Brewmaster tried to offer sour beers like this one to the people around here and they mostly just spit them on his boots." It goes on to proclaim that times have changed. I hope so.

While I do wish that 17UP was a bit more sour than it is, with its sprightly flavor and light body it really hit the spot on a near-80 degree day. There was nothing extreme here – each flavor was doing its Midwestern nice thing – and they all just melded together nicely. The people of La Crosse would have to be crazy to spit this on someone's boots.

Junk food pairing: Eat soft pretzels with 17UP. But instead of salt, use a shake of Pleasoning before dipping into mustard.

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|| Palmer, 7:19 PM

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