Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Stone Tepee Pale Ale

Tyranena Brewing Company
Lake Mills, WI

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.8%

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

Ah, yes, the American pale ale. Or as Nigel refers to it, IPA’s not-as-attractive cousin. You know what I’m talking about—the sweet, intelligent girl who doesn’t get noticed because she’s not nearly as hot as her cheerleader, prom-queen cousin. Don’t get me wrong, pale ales are undoubtedly excellent craft brews when made properly, but even the best of them (excluding FFF’s Alpha King, which is way too hoppy to be a pale ale in Nigel’s book) can’t hold a candle to a fine craft IPA in this hophead’s opinion. I like my beers like I like my ex-girlfriends: so damn bitter that you can hardly stand to drink them, yet so good at turning you on that you trip over yourself running back to them. Poor pale ale just can’t compete with that in my book, but God bless ’em for trying. Tyranena is one of a select few craft Midwest breweries that have mastered the art of powerful brewing, so I expected that if anyone could brew a ballsy pale ale, it would be them. After all, this is the same brewery that crafts the sensationally hoppy Bitter Woman IPA and Hop Whore Imperial IPA brews, as well as powerful non-hoppy brews like the Fighting Finches Maibock and Shantytown Dopplebock, and a number of powerful, limited-edition brews in their Brewers Gone Wild series that would make any Beer Dork smile. I have to say I was a bit disappointed since Stone Tepee, while definitely a good brew, fell a bit short of my perhaps too lofty expectations.

The beer pours with a slight head, though a tad bit bubblier than usual at first for a typically low-carbonated brew like a pale ale. The color is good—dark golden brown, with a good cloudy haze to it. Honestly, the smell didn’t do it for me. I can best describe it as a macro-brew lager aroma, only with a lot more citrus and a slight tinge of hoppiness. The taste is different than I expected—not bad, but a bit unusual for the style. There are definitely hoppy overtones, as there should be in any pale ale, but it’s not at the forefront. Citrus rules the day here, as this beer sort of reminded me of what the mutated offspring of a hefeweizen and pale ale would taste like if an evil beer scientist ever went crazy. Strong citrus notes of grapefruit, orange, and banana come through, typical in a hefe, but not usually seen to this extent in a pale ale. Surpisingly, malt is the first flavor to hit you, though it is a light, caramel malt that is quickly muted by the citrus. There is a notable hoppy bitterness, but not nearly as much as I’ve experienced in other craft pales, and it definitely is the third place finisher in this race. It’s a medium-bodied brew as you would expect any pale ale to be, but with less bitterness and more spice than one might expect. The aftertaste is somewhat strong, but not intolerable. All in all, a good brew from a quality brewery (Tyranena is easily in Nigel’s top 10, if anyone ever asks for his opinion on such things) and worth a try if only for the fact that it is a somewhat unique take on the pale ale.

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on January 2, 2007.
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