Stone Brewing Company, Chicago's newest love, knows how to hop beer. They've been known for extreme brewing every since they self-named their flagship brew, Arrogant Bastard. This southern California brewery's India Pale Ale arrives refreshing, hinting at fruit and spice in the aroma, and then hitting your tongue with a bittersweet burst of hop flavors held together by a solid, medium body. The sweetness lingers a little, but ends up overwhelmed by pineapple and some spice; there is a hint of the malt in the suggestion of toasted white bread - croutons even - buried under all the fresh and green-like hoppiness. 8.3
Not to be outdone by our coastal beer geeks, Chicago's not lacking in lupulin-versed specialists of the Art. Flossmoor Station grew on the reputation of their IPAS, first masterminded by Matt Van Wyke, now of Oakshire Brewing. That legacy continues with Bryan Shimkos. Flossmoor's 1492 IPA celebrates the explorer Christopher Columbus, by ramping up the Columbus variety of hops. While very floral and spicy driven, this beer also suggests more caramel sweetness, and a slightly nutty, whole grain bread flavor, under the drive of hoppy pine, spice, and flowers. 8.8
Both this beers are worthy of regular drinking, both at home and at the bar; what sets Flossmoor Station's 1492 IPA a shelf above Stone IPA is the fact that it doesn't come at you with just one river of flavor. The underlying nuttiness and bread component of the 1492 pushes the hops into a better defined place. These flavors go together, and do their thing, and work as dance partners. More beers should go the route of complicated joint effort in flavor.
Check back here tomorrow, for Beervana #7. An assortment of Oak Beers bounced around the Chicago tap scene in April, and OMG Beer! had entirely too many to be healthy for our livers.