Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Hot Tail Ale

Falls Brewing Company
Oconte Falls, WI

Style: English Pale Ale

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)

First of all, let me address an issue that has come up recently out there in Beer Dork Land. It seems some of you have brought into question Nigel’s Englishnessity (it’s a real word, so don’t bother looking it up). “Hmm …” you say, “Nigel seems to make a number of references to Wisconsin in his various nonsensical writings for this fine web site. I wonder if he’s not actually English, but ‘in character’ when he writes, and is in fact a full-blooded Cheesehead”.

I must say, these hurtful accusations sting more than my toe did last night when I stubbed it so hard the nail ripped off (true story—not a pleasant experience for yours truly). While it is true that Nigel is currently a resident of the state of Wisconsin, I assure you that this is only temporary, and the reasoning behind it is highly classified. For the most part Nigel has been able to assimilate into the culture of the Badger State, though I have been unable to become a full-fledged Cheesehead. First and foremost, I despise the local professional football team, as I choose to root for a far superior team located on the West Coast (not to mention the fact that to me, football will always be what you American lads refer to as “soccer”). I’ve never been bowling, and I don’t know how to polka or line dance. I don’t deer hunt, and I own no apparel featuring either blaze orange or camouflage. Finally, I’m allergic to cold and snow, which makes the winters here really, really long.

Proof of my British heritage is well-documented, as I am next in line for King of England, should the 76,892 people in front of me mysteriously die of mass poisoning. Grainy home video evidence supports my claim that when I exited my mum’s womb, I enjoyed a spot of tea and a crumpet before the doctor severed the umbilical cord. I’ve been blessed with bad teeth, as that stereotype is unfortunately all too true. I also love only the blandest of foods and am in first place in my fantasy cricket league, so I dare you to question Sir Nigel’s royal lineage again.

With that out of the way, on to the important topic of the day, Falls Brewing Co.’s Hot Tail Ale, an English pale ale brewed in Wisconsin, thus combining all the geographical regions that make Nigel the special lil’ fireball that he is. Falls Brewing is located in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, which, after extended consultation of my state map, I have concluded is located somewhere between Green Bay and purgatory. Hot Tail Ale features a brown bottle with a distinctive red bottlecap, with a, uh … how do I say this delicately? It b havin’ a skanky bitch wit a nice ass all up on it (sorry, Mum—I’ve become a wee bit Americanized during my stay across the pond). For those of you who failed to comprehend that, the curvaceous, bare-backed female on the label would be the “hot tail” Falls Brewing is referring to. Personally I am offended, but I guess Nigel just doesn’t understand the broad intellectual concepts that encompass the complex world of American marketing (read: sex sells).

As for the beer, I have to say I was hopeful, as this is an English-style, supposedly hoppy ale brewed in my current state of residence. Holy disappointment! I haven’t had a letdown this significant since I was rejected at both Oxford and Cambridge, forcing me to my third choice in universities, Wisconsin-Oshkosh (perhaps I should have set the bar a little higher …). Here’s a suggestion from yours truly to the folks at Falls Brewing: marketing strategies are nice and all, but ultimately, if you really want to increase sales, try Nigel’s tried and true formula: BREW A BETTER BEER!

Hot Tail Ale pours a nice, deep amber hue, free of any cloudiness, with a decent foamy head on the pour that disappears almost instantly, making for a flat brew with only the slightest creamy trace. The aroma is fairly strong and is mostly malt, with a mild hint of citrus. Granted, English-style Pale Ales are maltier than their American counterparts, but this aroma is overwhelmingly roasted nuttiness, without any noticeable hint of hops. Not a horrible smell by any means, but nonetheless far too malty for a pale ale, regardless of origin. The taste is about as blah as you can get. Again, malt dominates: it has a very distinctive roasted nutty flavor, almost like drinking a burnt peanut, with a slight bit of sugary caramel. There is an indescribable stale flavor to it as well—is it citrus? Hops? Sewer water? I can’t pinpoint it, but it’s not pleasant. Again, English pale ales are supposed to be lower in hops than their American counterparts, but Falls apparently read “fewer” as “no” in their recipe, making for a very bland brew. Honestly, it’s closer to a nut brown ale than anything else, but that statement may be offensive to brown ales. Medium-bodied with a nasty aftertaste, this brew goes down ok, but is likely not going to impress any Beer Dork, regardless of what style of brew they tend to favor.

Overall, this “hot tail” is deceiving, even when viewed through the strongest of beer goggles. I’d recommend staying away, as there are plenty of other quality craft brews from Wisconsin that are far more enjoyable. Now if you’ll excuse me, Sir Nigel is late for his polo match.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on July 22, 2007.
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