Beer Review – Golden Road Brewing Wolf Among Weeds IPA

Beer Review – Golden Road Brewing Wolf Among Weeds IPA

All the way from L.A.

11909981_544132045735847_1462636225_nI went to visit my old mate Charlie who runs a beer, wine and spirits distribution company and always has his finger on the pulse for new craft beers in my area. He was the guy that put me onto Wolf OF The Willows recently, and he introduced me to Founders All Day IPA a while back. I guess he has never done me wrong in the past with his recommendations, so when he suggested I pick up a pack of the Golden Road Summer of IPA mixed pack, I thought, yeah, why not? Anyway, in the pack were 9 “big boy” cans (pints), which is something I love from USA breweries…I regularly enjoy my Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in them! 3 each of the Golden Road Wolf Among Weeds (8%), Heal The Bay (6.8%) and Point The Way (5.9%) IPA’s. I love the idea of craft brewers producing mixed packs like these, I think it allows the craft drinker to take a bit of a chance if they aren’t sure if they would like a full case of a particular beer…I mean it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea to buy 9 pint cans of an 8% beer, but throw in a couple of ”lighter” options (when has 5.8% ever been referred to as lighter? hehe) and it makes it a pretty interesting purchase option.

Now if you aren’t familiar with Golden Road Brewing, where have you been? They have been in the news lately for probably two interesting reasons…one being that that last September they were bought out by Anheuser-Busch, and secondly one of the founders of the company and head brewer is actually a female…Meg Gill. I am not calling out the fact that Meg is interesting because she is a woman, but more for the fact that she has been so successful in a very male dominated industry. I admire the fact that she is a craft beer lover, I wish there were more women who jumped on board craft beer.

I used to joke with my wife that all I wanted her to be when we first met was a beer drinker, so that I could go to the bar and order “2 beers please”. On our first date this dream was dashed as I asked what she wanted to drink and she said “CC and Diet Coke”…I smiled through gritted teeth as I headed to the bar thinking “Damn it!”. I initially wanted her to be a beer drinker as I was a young man with not that much cash to splash around and beer was cheaper than whisky, but nowadays I would like to be able to share my excitement over a hop aroma or a hybrid style that has captured my interest. However, I have been unable to convert her after all of these years, she just likes her Sav Blanc.

Anyway, let’s get back on track here and talk about the important stuff…the beer! Obviously this pack contained more than one beer and I wasn’t sure which on to pick initially, but it was the success of the Pirate Life Brewing IIPA in the recent Hot 100 craft beers that made me choose the 8% Wolf Among Weeds IPA for my review. Don’t get me wrong, the other two beers in the pack were great, but I thought that seeing as I am always on about enjoying the full flavour beers with lower ABV’s, I would man-up on this occasion and pick the big beer!

12543339_532559883573310_1169262268_nWhen you look at the specs of this beer, you know you are in for something a little special…

Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 8.0%
IBU: 80
Malts: 2-Row, Golden Promise, Malted Rye
Hops: Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade

Firstly I look at the hops and know that the combination of some of my favourite hops will produce a beer that smells great! And it did, it had a little bit of everything in it for me…pineapple, mango and citrus up front and then a hint of pine that was backed by a light maltiness. (Hops are amazing things, really…tune back in next week for a story about one man looking to educate the beer drinking world about just how magical hops can be!)

Pouring it into my favourite IPA glass, the colour was lightly golden straw colour with a little bit of cloud, as you can see from the picture. By the way, this picture is from Instagrammer Grant.Wales because I forgot to take a photo, yet again. I think I just get too excited when I review these beers, I seem to want to jump straight in for the taste. I mean, it’s not that hard…pour the beer, take a photo, look at the beer, smell it, taste it, record my thoughts…but I just seem to be missing the photo bit lately!

Back on track with the taste and this beer really packed a punch, but was also really nicely balanced…almost to the point that you forget about it being a big beer at 8%. I mean, you get a bit of grassiness up front with some really nice tropical notes followed by a bitterness, that for 80 IBU’s seems quite restrained, and then a nice dry finish. Hats off to the brewers of this beer to give it such a great balance to the taste without that strong alcohol taste you get in some higher ABV beers. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer.

Food Match

I tend to find that big IPA’s like this one can be pretty difficult to find a decent food match to go with them. It might be the intensity of the hop bitterness that makes it hard to find food that can compete or compliment with it, or maybe that spiciness in some of them that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Some beer experts like to pair strong cheeses like a sharp cheddar or even blue cheese with these types of beers because they have strong flavours that can stand up to the IIPA, but as I have mentioned before, I am not really a cheese lover.

My personal preference for a beer like this would be to grill up some nice barbecue meats with a barbecue glaze…something like a slow cooked, charred brisket with a sweet American style barbecue sauce glaze…I think the nice sweetness of the barbecue sauce and the saltiness of the meat will combine nicely with the malt backbone of the beer and the hop bitterness.

Or maybe I could be dead wrong? If you have got a better food match suggestion, let me know!

Side note: This was a pretty decent mixed pack of beer and got me inspired to find others out there…did a bit of searching around and found this great article on Thrillist, who as it turns out, also liked this pack from Golden Road. This is an American article and I couldn’t find anything quite along the same lines here in Australia. I know that there were some cool Xmas mixed cartons last year, and I have seen some stuff from 4 Pines and Little Creatures in the past. However, when I Googled Aus Craft Beer mixed packs it seemed to only want to point me toward Dan Murphys and their pack of so-so craft beers that included some of their own home brands…so my search continues!

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Cheers to Great Beers!

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