Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Knot Stock

Furthermore Beer
Spring Green, WI

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%

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

One of my favorite jokes poking fun at the blandness of a particular area’s taste in food goes something like, “You know you’re from insert place here (usually it’s Wisconsin, although you could easily plug in any region of the Midwest not known for its culinary adventurousness) if you think ketchup is spicy.” You could easily turn that into a great little rip on mainstream American beer tastes, such as, “You know you’re an American if you think Bud Light is beer.”

Now we can mix my metaphors (or at least my lame-ass jokes) and whip out something like “You know you’re an American craft brewer if you put spice in your beer.” Although spices aren’t all that unheard of in world beer styles (Belgian brews have all kinds of funky seasonings in them), you usually don’t find too many brews sporting a healthy dose of cracked black pepper. Then again, you don’t usually come across a thoughtfully idiosyncratic brewery like Furthermore Brewing all that often either.

And that’s exactly what tonight’s reviewed beer, Furthermore’s Knot Stock, is: top-notch pale ale fare with a shot of cracked black pepper to create a “most particular” beer. It starts out at the top of the bell curve, with a beautiful, reddish-tinged gold pour crowned with a fine-bubbled, thick and firm head. As a pale ale pour goes, you’d have to go to Founders’ stuff to find anything better.

The aroma is far more unassuming, featuring bready malt (probably due in no small part to quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle) over top some spicy hops. At the deepest ends of sniff, there’s the sharp, dry, gun-powdery odors indicative of black pepper … although there’s no way I would have guessed it was there—or what it was, for that matter—if Furthermore hadn’t been up front about it from the get-go.

The fore of the sip is a quick rush of malty sweetness quickly quieted by a short wave of hops, then the cracked black pepper takes over. Here there’s no mistaking it, and its effect on the beer is pretty obvious: it really dries things out and accentuates the earthy characters of both the malt and hops, and the finish is peppery hotness (although not overwhelmingly, or unpleasantly, so, even if you do find ketchup a tad too ribald) riding up the tip of the tongue.

Those who like their pales loud and wild, with citrusy and piney notes literally crawling out of the glass may not be all that impressed with Knot Stock, since the pepper acts like antimatter to those brash and sometimes over-exuberant hops. I, however, found the down-to-earth, almost musty character the black pepper lent the beer to be a wonderfully distinct take on the style, and a refreshing break from the almost cliched overuse of Cascade (and its ilk) in pale ales nowadays. Definitely a beer worth seeking out.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on June 17, 2008.
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