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Beer Reviews

Sweet Child Of Vine

Fulton Beer
Minneapolis, MN

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 6.4%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Pair With:
You can say what you want about ’80s hair metal—and there’s a lot to say—but the lead singers of those bands could actually sing. There was no Auto Tune back then, so the crystal glass shattering notes you hear the dude from Steelheart hit from the power ballad to end all power ballads “Never Let You Go” are the real fucking deal, which you can’t say for 99 percent of the shit polluting the airwaves and interwebs today. Even critical darlings like Fallout Boy and Arcade Fire and Sonic Youth are so over produced they make late-’80s Def Leppard sound like a garage band in comparison.

Unlike all my other reviews, this segue into vaguely pop culture of a decade most people pretend to wish had never existed has a point tonight, because it vaguely has something to do with tonight’s featured beer, since Fulton Beer Sweet Child Of Vine is obviously a play off of Guns N’ (sic) Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” perhaps the only underdone power ballad in the short but sublimely sweet history of overwrought vaguely metal music. (You could argue Overkill’s ultra-power metal ballad “Promises” as being more underdone, but it came out in 19fucking97, for Christ’s sake, and you’d be a total basement-dwelling, music-anti-hipster nerd to even think of it, let alone know of its existence.)

But this is a beer appreciation web site, dammit, so we’re going to actually talk about the beer. Sweet Child Of Vine is not your typical IPA. It’s made with Glaciers hops, a very mild hop that has a lot more in common with classic German varieties than those wild, fruity and/or catty flavors of American hops you usually find in IPAs nowadays.

The beer pours a beautiful cloudy copper with about an inch of off white head, which disappears a little too quickly. The nose opens with a shot of green, earthy hops, followed up with some Munich malt-like sweetness.

The sipping starts with bright green and spicy hop flavors blanketing a rounded, nutty malt backbone. It finishes medium in length and not at all bitter—at least, not IPA-bitter, or even pale-ale-bitter—but still sporting some of the mild, spicy notes of the hops.

This is an intriguingly refreshing take on the IPA. It’s certainly not for hopheads, since the bitterness American IPA fans are used to is decidedly not the star here. Instead it’s the interesting play between the relatively rarely encountered Glacier hops and the subdued but balanced maltiness behind them.

One word of caution, beyond my hopheads-won’t-dig-this-one: you gotta drink this one fresh. Even a month out of the brewery the hop flavors fade, and two months out, you might as well be drinking a generic “amber.” But get it fresh—and with an open mind, when it comes to IPAs—and you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on September 30, 2013.
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