Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Alpha King

Three Floyds Brewing Co.
Munster, IN

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.0%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

I guess you could call this review a little overdue.

After all, this is the flagship brew of what I have called, for two years running, the best brewery in the Midwest, a beer that has had a hand in creating the movement of ultra-hoppy brews not only in the Midwest but across the world.

Plus, I ran down to Munster just to confront those wacky geniuses how they get off calling this beer, hoppier than a lot of IPAs out there, a mere pale ale.

So what’s the deal? Why has it taken me so long to write a review?

Because I’m fucking lazy.

The impetus to get my lazy ass to finally codify my opinions on this now classic brew came one night while out with some acquaintances at a bar whose beer selection was not what I would call “stellar.” It wasn’t complete crap, since it did list Sierra Nevada’s nearly ubiquitous Pale Ale. But after I sucked down a few of those I was getting sick of the monotonous onslaught of Cascade hops, as well as the company of my acquaintances. So I ditched bar, beer, and acquaintances all to head to a nearby bar that I knew had a better selection of suds. I found an open stool in front of the taps (I’m lucky that way) and immediately ordered the draft in front of me: Three Floyds Alpha King. Upon giving it a sip—after a long night of Sierra Nevada—I realized with a shock of renewal how truly great this beer is.

First off, this beer pours like any authentic pale ale should: a hazy light amber/deep gold. The head’s slightly off-white, pillowy, finely bubbled, and super sticky. The aroma of hops verily radiates off the top of the glass: sharp, piney notes on top with some citric fruitiness underneath. Although not a hint of malt is in the nose, the palate is much more balanced. Woodsy bitterness gives way to a lode of dry, biscuit-like malt. The end is pure, clean bitterness, tangy, almost sweet.

Comparing this to Sierra Nevada, the quintessential American pale ale, is almost unfair. The malt balance is more pronounced, the Centennial hops kick the fruity bitterness to another level, and the Warrior hops just slice the end of the sip off like a razor blade, with a refreshing, amazingly clean finish. The Alpha King got it’s rep for being a hop monster, but once you’re able to sift through the wall of bitterness and discover the layers of flavor nuances, you’ll see that it runs circles around not only Sierra Nevada but virtually any other pale ale, American or otherwise, on the market.

Admittedly, this beer is not for the weak-kneed when it comes to—sometimes harsh—bitterness. So for folks who normally cry and bitch and moan about hoppy beers, run away and don’t come back until you’ve gotten rid of your hop diapers. But for the initiated, the Alpha King is damn near heaven.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on March 13, 2008.
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