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Scurvy

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Tyranena Brewing Company
Lake Mills, WI
USA
http://www.tyranena.com/

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)

Nigel’s Rating:
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Comments:
Pair With:
Ahoy mateys, Cap’n Nigel here with a serious case of the scurvy. Listen as I tell ye a tale of a mighty voyage at sea. All ye landlubbers take warnin’, as I be tellin’ the truth about a swashbucklin’ sailor in search of grand booty who came down with a disease so heinous that me own lass don’t dare come near. Yarrr!

Ok, enough with the faux pirate talk; after all, Nigel has never been confused with Johnny Depp (I’ve been described as more of a mix between Brad Pitt and Clive Owen, with a pinch of Prince William thrown in). I was determined to avoid reviewing the latest Brewers Gone Wild release from Tyranena, as I can’t keep up with these damn things (this would be the third one already this year, following Dirty Old Man and Devil Over a Barrel) and have already reviewed my fair share of them (I believe this would be number six). Sometimes even the best laid plans require a slight detour, and with the urge to review striking Nigel very suddenly this evening and Scurvy being the only unreviewed brew adequately chilled in the beer fridge, well … here we go.

I won’t rehash the tired commentary regarding the fun names, quality brews, extremism, blah, blah, blah, of Tyranena’s thus far brilliant series. I find Scurvy’s title to be not only amusing, but also a nice ode to the origins of the IPA, brews that the Brits heavily hopped so they could survive the grueling trek from England to India during the height of imperialism. It’s described as “an ample ale exploding with luscious, fruity hops and a citrusy blast of orange zest,” thus combining many of the exotic qualities that characterized the once proud British empire. Perhaps the addition of orange zest is an intentional bit of irony, since scurvy is caused by a lack of Vitamin C.

Scurvy pours well, revealing a dark golden brown brew with a mild one inch head that quickly dissipates, leaving a nominal trace at the top of the glass. The brew appears to be relatively transparent, though it’s hard to tell on a humid Midwestern night when condensation builds quickly on the outside of the glass. This has the look of a British IPA, which is a tad more coppery than the American version.

The aromas are just as you’d expect from an IPA. While it has some British IPA characteristics, the hops appear to be purely American. A light, citrusy zip of Northwest hops comes through at the outset, giving it the noticeable zest and piney tinge typical of an American IPA. What makes this more “British” is the huge malt profile; much like Tyranena’s flagship Bitter Woman IPA, this is very grounded (pun intended) with a noticeable amount of earthiness. Sweet aromas of caramel and toffee quickly temper the hops, though a distinct hoppy bite remains throughout. The citrusy zest tingles the nostrils as well, making this a pleasant and somewhat powerful aroma that is sweet, earthy, citrusy, flowery and piney.

The taste is very good, but it doesn’t quite live up to the lofty precedent set by its predecessors. While it’s more balanced than other BGW selections like Stickin’ It to the Man and Hop Whore, it doesn’t quite elevate to the four mug level, and it tastes strikingly similar to one of my favorite session brews, Lakefront IPA. An initial bite of Northwest hops is joined immediately by a good amount of orange zest, thus living up to the description given by Tyranena. A solid malt backbone makes its presence felt, a maltiness that is both sweet and earthy with flavors of caramel, toffee, light brown sugar, and barley. Fruitiness is also in abundance, most notably from the citrus characteristics of the hops (orange peel and grapefruit), as is a touch of spice (black pepper and clove). This is tasty, balanced, and loaded with hops, malt, fruit, spice, and even a slight hint of alcohol. Why then does it not receive four mugs? Uh … I’m not sure other than the fact that it’s slightly less appealing than its BGW brethren. Medium bodied and moderate on the palate, Scurvy goes down fairly well with a bit of lingering aftertaste. I’d place the ABV at about 6.5 percent or so, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a bit higher.

For those of you who prefer your IPAs well balanced, this is right up your alley, as it combines the best of both worlds for a tasty brew. While it may seem silly for Nigel to rate this three mugs rather than four simply via comparison to the other BGW brews, all I can say is that it’s my review, so stick it … I’ll do what I want (Nigel is feisty tonight). Scurvy is another excellent brew from Tyranena and a must try for anyone out there who isn’t put off by a brew named after a disease (HIV IPA apparently didn’t pass through government censors). Hypochondriacs can follow their Scurvy with a nice glass of freshly squeezed orange juice just to be safe.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on July 24, 2008.
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