Tyranena Brewing Company of Lake Mills offers about a half dozen beers on a regular basis. Many are named after local legends, like Chief Black Hawk Porter and Stone Teepee Pale Ale (the reference is to stone pyramids that mysteriously lie underwater in nearby Rock Lake).
But owner and brewmaster Rob Larson breaks the norm with a special series of limited release beers he calls his Brewers Gone Wild series -- a name he says was inspired by a little too much late-night TV watching. Over the past couple of years the series, sold in four-packs, has featured an imperial IPA called Stickin' It To The Man and an imperial brown ale with the name High Class Broad. His latest creation, Dirty Old Man, has just hit the Tyranena tasting room and local stores.
What is it? Dirty Old Man imperial rye porter from Tyranena Brewing Company of Lake Mills.
Style: This beer doesn't neatly fit into one style. Perhaps it most closely shares the characteristics of an imperial porter or Baltic porter, with a big, full body, smoothness and alcoholic warmth. It's a very dark-colored beer, with robust sweetness. Aging in rye whiskey barrels adds complexity.
Background: Larson has been working on a special-release porter for some time. About a year ago he developed an imperial porter called "Who's Your Daddy," and his latest beer expands on that brew. "Dirty Old Man" was delayed, though, but not because of recipe development oor the time it takes to ferment. It had been held up since October by the Tax and Trade Bureau, the federal agency that reviews labeling of alcoholic products.
If you look closely at the labels of Larson's Brewers Gone Wild beers, you'll see that they often feature a cartoon caricature of Larson. On "Dirty Old Man" in particular, that drawing has some physical resemblance to Larson, especially his baldness. But he expanded that to a frail looking stick figure with a cane and the caption "Gimme a sponge bath!" He admits he had problems getting his original label approved, in part, because of the caption, "Want some candy?"
- Aroma: Malty, sweet.
- Appearance: Very dark and viscous looking. A thick, bubbly, brown head.
- Texture: Full bodied, smooth and warm from the start.
- Taste: Lots of chocolate maltiness, with just a light hint of coffee-dryness.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Very warming. The malt and the effect of aging in whiskey barrels produce a long lasting sweetness.
Glassware: A mug might actually be just the perfect drinking vessel for this beer. A wide mouth and lots of bulky body to the glassware will allow this beer to warm and bring out the sweetness.
Pairs well with: This beer will easily overwhelm many entrees. Pot roast, sweet potatoes or shepherd's pie will blend with the assertive maltiness, while the dryness from the rye tones cut through the heavy nature of such dishes. But Dirty Old Man is really best as a dessert beer for after dinner relaxation.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers.
(I am using a one to four bottle opener scale: four is a great beer, distinctive, you'll have this over others; three is a beer you enjoy, reliable, close to its described style; two is problematic, lacks distinction, but worth having again; one is a beer that isn't true to its style, you would not recommend it to a friend.)
The Verdict: A wonderful treat, with awesome sweetness from the malt and rye whiskey. A perfect end-of-the-day beer, cleverly accented by Rob Larson's unabashed sense of humor -- that makes this beer fit well into his untamed Brewers Gone Wild series. What will he think of next, Monster Truck Shandy? I hope not!