Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rush River Bubblejack IPA

IPAs, India Pale Ales, aren't typically associated with Wisconsin. Yet, Ale Asylum and Tyranena specialize in these hoppy beasts. New Glarus makes a proper British IPA. Central Waters has two: the Glacial Trail is an American IPA, and the Lac du Bay, when it's available, is a British IPA. Stonefly, the Milwaukee brewpub, brews a mean IPA. The Grumpy Troll made an iced IPA. Many of our other brewpubs make an IPA a regular seasonal.

Today we'll review an IPA from a brewery that isn't available here in Madison. [ed note: Jeff needs to stop buying beer in bulk and get out to the retailers more often; Rush River is apparently available at Riley's, Steve's, Woodman's and Sentry, and probably a number of other places, in the Madison area] Rush River is based in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, a small town on the Mississippi River in the triangle between Hudson, Eau Claire and La Crosse. Or is it River Falls? Though they have yet to update their website properly to show slightly more expanded distribution (or settle on a location apparently), Rush River is available mostly in the Hudson/Eau Claire/River Falls area and in plenty of places on the Minnesota side of the border. In fact, given the paucity of Wisconsin distribution, this is more a Minnesota beer brewed in Wisconsin than a Wisconsin beer. Indeed, some clicking around reveals that Rush River began as a Minnesota brewery, and only moved to Wisconsin when it needed space for a bottling line. Unfortunately, Minnesota's brewing laws are not particularly friendly (yes, even less friendly than Wisconsin's), so there are a few of these border breweries that take advantage of the fact that it is easier to brew here and just export to Minnesota.

Should we even properly consider Rush River to be a Wisconsin brewery? Well, this question can be put off for another day. One of the brewers at Rush River, Dan Chang, grew up in Milwaukee and the particular six-pack of the Bubblejack I procured was obtained in Milwaukee. How long until it is available in Madison? My guess is that it'll be a while – Ale Asylum and Tyranena pretty much monopolize (oligopolize? Duopolize?) the hops round these parts. [ed note: In addition to being clueless, Jeff is apparently not that good making predictions, either]



Rush River Bubblejack IPA

Appearance: a thick, dense pale two-finger head; a hazy copper body chock-full of floaty-bits – the bits appear to be both yeasties and hop-floaties (yes, those are the technical terms)
Aroma: grassy and citrusy – more lemon than grapefruit, but good, balanced complex aroma; a faint mustiness and a bright sweetness
Flavor: oily hops; lemon and pepper and citrus and grass and pine all mingle together, with a long bitter hop-metallic bitterness; there is a faint light-caramel maltiness that sneaks through, but this is, for the most part, an all-hop IPA
Body: a long, lean body with an emphasis on complexity
Drinkability: a great every-day IPA for the hop-head, it pairs well with food, even food of moderate spice, but also is lean enough to follow it up with another (or another two or three)
Summary: I'm a hophead, I like my IPAs on the thin side with plenty of hoppiness; it really comes down to whether you require balance out of your IPAs or whether you like your IPAs as mild hop-bombs. Me, I'm of the latter variety – I like my hops. In that regard, Ale Asylum's Hopalicious is nice and Tyranena's Bitter Woman works, but both have more have more maltiness and less complexity in the hops than this. That's not to say I like this more, or like those less, they're just different and this is every bit their equal. It reminds me of a true West Coast IPA, such as those of Lagunitas. Too bad it's not available in Madison, you'll just have to get one next time you're in the Twin Cities.

10 comments:

  1. As to availability, I have purchased Rush River at Riley's.

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  2. Really? So it IS available in Madison? Admittedly it's been a while, maybe 2 or 3 months since I've been in Riley's. But it's not in some of the usual West Side spots.

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  3. Unless I'm mistaken (and Red Wing reference aside), RR's mention of Lake Pepin refers to the WI side of the border. The geographic Rush River is right around Maiden Rock, WI. Either way, RR is though of as a MN brand as the Cities are the nearest significant market.

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  4. Off topic but a followup to an earlier posting:

    The Great Dane has purchased Hereford & Hops in Wausau and will be opening its 4th brewpub there in March after remodeling, etc.

    http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/article/20090114/WDH0101/901140669/1981

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  5. I bought this at Steve's on PD or Sentry at Hilldale

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  6. Never purchased it, but I always notice this label at Woodmans. Usually because the label is so ugly and makes me think, I don't want to drink whatever is in this brightly colored bottle. Looks more like a sports drink design.

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  7. Wow. So, I ... uhhh ... stand corrected. Rush River IS available in Madison.

    Man, I need to get out more.

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  8. I agree with studio49: the rush river labels are horrendous. But i enjoyed the bubblejack. it was a little thin, but this also makes it VERY drinkable.

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  9. You can get them at the Cork N' Bottle at 855 E Johnson Street (sale priced for the next couple of weeks, too). :-)

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  10. Verona Wine Cellar carries it...

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