Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

River Pig Pale Ale

Angry Minnow Brewpub
Hayward, WI

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.0%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

I'm not sure if the folks at the Angry Minnow Brewpub in tiny, remote Hayward, Wisconsin (best known for its giant fish statue) have Ph.D.'s in marketing, but it certainly seems that way. Like many Northwoods breweries with limited exposure, Angry Minnow went with a gimmicky name in hopes of attracting customers, and it appears to be working. I made three trips this past year to the primary tourist trap in northern Wisconsin, Minocqua, and Angry Minnow brews were flying off store shelves. The cashier at Trig's Liquor Store in Minocqua, upon noticing my purchase of a six pack of AM, commented that she had never in her fifteen plus years at the store seen any product sell as rapidly as the AM brews. Only two kinds, River Pig Pale Ale and Honey Wheat, are available at Trig's, and she said that shipments from the brewery located two hours to the northwest come in weekly yet rarely last for more than a few days during peak season. My last trip north was in late October when a fraction of the people were around compared to my other two journeys on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, yet the AM brews were still selling far more rapidly than anything else among the large selection of regional micros at Trig's.

So is this sudden popularity a result of Angry Minnow crafting the finest brews the great state of Wisconsin has ever seen? Well... no. But they're not bad. The River Pig Pale Ale is a standard craft American Pale, quite enjoyable but definitely not anything to write home about. It pours similar to any Pale Ale, well carbonated with a light head. The color is a bit darker that you generally see in a Pale Ale; if you saw it in a glass you would swear it was an Amber or Red. The smell is fairly mild for a beer of this kind (as is the ABV), but it's usually so cold in the Northwoods that your nostrils are frozen shut anyways. The taste is good, but not great: more malty and less hoppy and citrusy than I personally expect and enjoy from a Pale Ale. The aftertaste is fairly strong. How about a new category: Amber Pale Ale. Essentially that's what this was: not quite Amber, not quite Pale, but a great name for a decent brew that is certainly worth a try should you be stranded in the Great White North anytime in the near future.

(Side note--the website appears to be not yet fully functional, so you may have to wait awhile to get online info from Angry Minnow).

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on November 14, 2006.
Agree with this review?