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.
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.