Knee Deep Brewing
Slightly hazy amber in the glass with an off white head. The aroma is of strong pine & citrus with a layer of bread dough underneath. The bread is there in flavor too, almost a sourdough, this time with the hops underneath, herbal and piney. The finish shows that the emphasis was aroma hops more than flavor and in turn more than buttering . . . that means that the finish wasn’t intensely hopped, or at least not after the nose and flavor. 9.0% ABV, 102 IBU on the original scale of 0 to 100, and things only go up from here!
“Not meant for aging – enjoy this triple fresh.” So says the bottle, and maybe triple means “the hops hit from three feet away.” These hops are potent. Pours golden straw with a bright pale yellowish head, foamy & persistent. The nose delivers spicy hops, but then a rich caramel malt emerges followed by lots more hops. The flavor starts with bright stone fruit quickly overwhelmed by earthy piney spicy hops. The mouthfeel is much lighter than the alcohol content suggests, and it has a refreshing quality like a session beer for a very short session. The long finish has a sweetness that bobs up and down in a sea of hops. It’s hard to call this balanced and yet it isn’t wildly hoppy. 20+ minutes later, sitting and sipping, a thought came to me: “oh, man, I love this stuff” . . . and I haven’t had enough for the palette version of beer goggles! 11.25% ABV, 131 IBU
“A Quad IPA That Borders on Insanity.” Sounds like my kind of beer. It’s light amber and effervescent, supporting a bubbly lemon cream head. The hops hit as the cap comes off but are somewhat restrained with bread malt playing off the spicy earthy hops. The flavor hits with a wood note like a baseball bat to the tongue. There is no restraint to the flavor hops, but a bit of molasses softens the blow, ending with a candy-like quality carrying into the finish. The bittering hops show some restraint too, or perhaps my taste buds are in hop shock. There’s no heat meaning that the power is somewhat hidden, so this could knock a surprised someone on their ass. 13.1% ABV, “IBU: Ask Jerry”
It would be very interesting to taste these three back to back to back, but you’d better have some help!
Coincidentally, the next night at Growler & Gill featured a tasting of Knee Deep Brewing. Naturally I asked who Jerry is, and he’s the brewer. As for the IBU I guess they can’t quite figure out how to quantify it. The presenter estimated “over 200.”
I said it would be “interesting to taste these three,” well make that “these four” as the tasting led off with:
Brewed as a collaboration between Knee Deep and the legendary Kern River, this pours medium amber with a generous ragged yellowish head supported by good effervescence. It has a very piney nose shading to citrus, a potent aroma with even a hint of cat pee. The flavor is quieter with more citrus but also with quite a bit of bread and caramel malt, striking a reasonable balance. The hops get earthier on the finish with a hint of candied orange peel. As a Double/Imperial it’s “only” 8% and as for the IBUs “ask Jeremy.” May I assume this is another brewer, perhaps Kern River?
The tasting continued with Simtra and Hop De-Ranged, then wrapped up with:
A porter brewed with vanilla, this pours opaque dark brown with a thin, brief tan head. It’s very roasty in nose and flavor. What I don’t get in the nose is vanilla. There’s a strong touch of dark chocolate probably from the malt, and there are hints of espresso. On the palette it’s very rich in body. It’s delicious and some vanilla comes in here though almost as if it’s from oak rather than beans. It’s very surprising how refreshing this is. The long finish is still predominately roasty. 10% ABV, 48 IBU.
I noticed something interesting. A couple of the people at the tasting say “I don’t like hops” and yet they liked these four, even though the lowest IBU was 48 and the highest ones were beyond estimation. To me, the key is balance; these beers offered so much flavor and malt and body that the potentially crushing bitterness becomes just one element of a rich experience. However, I had to tell the newly converted: “Welcome to the Dark Side!”
After the official tasting there was one more Knee Deep offering on draft:
This is the “non-Imperial” version with lots of mocha on the nose and palette, very much richer in both chocolate and coffee. It seems very different from its Imperial sibling. This is dark brown in the glass with a good light tan head but little body. So those are the two big differences, a lot more mocha but a lot less body. This delivers a nice quiet finish, but too thin, or at least too thin after all those heavy hitting offerings. 6.3% ABV.