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Monday, September 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 45.0° F  Fair
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Beer Here: Hopalicious from Ale Asylum
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An imperial pint of Ale Asylum's Hopalicious is at home amidst the foliage of a Hop plant.
An imperial pint of Ale Asylum's Hopalicious is at home amidst the foliage of a Hop plant.
Credit:Robin Shepard

Ale Asylum has been brewing for little more than a year, but it is already well-known to local beer fans. Brewmaster Dean Coffey is the former brewer for Madison's Angelic Brewing Company (which no longer brews). With him at Ale Asylum are fellow former Angelic staffers Otto Dilba and Chris Riphenburg, who left to help Coffey the new operation. You can find up to 10 beers on tap at Ale Asylum, and four of them are available in bottles. Several local bars carry mainstays like Ale Asylum's Madtown Nut Brown and Hopalicious.


What is it? Hopalicious from Ale Asylum.

Style: The pale ale style originated in the English Midlands town of Burton-upon-Trent, where extremely hard water and large additions of hops helped make bitter beers. Pale ale is characteristically lighter in color than the porters and stouts, and thus the name.

The American pale ale offers a solid interplay between the malt and hop flavors, but a strong emphasis is on the bitterness that can range from lightly floral to gritty resin. The hoppy qualities can even impart citrus-like tones in the flavor profile and finish. The American pale ale is a medium bodied beer, and serving it very cold will bring out the crisp bitterness.

Background: This beer is defined by the American hops that are used to make it. American hops typically have high bitterness and lots of aroma. Ale Asylum's Hopalicious is made with 11 separate additions of cascade hops.

The Hopalicious was one of three beers recognized in the Troll's Choice Awards of this past weekend's Thirsty Troll Brewfest in Mount Horeb (along with Brother Tim's Tripel from Lake Louie and Autumnal Fire from Capital).

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Moderate, citrus hoppiness.
  • Appearance: Hazy, orange-to-copper body. A thick, soft, tan head.
  • Texture: Medium bodied, round and bubbly.
  • Taste: A light malty beginning with a firm hoppy body, complimented with a light fruity-citrus background.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: Hoppy bitterness, yet a clean, crisp finish.

Glassware: The Imperial, or nonic, pint glass is perfect for this beer. The slight ripple near the top of the glass makes for a good grip as you savor this hoppy beer.

Pairs well with: This pale ale will match well with hearty, zesty dishes, especially pizza with lots of red sauce, peppers and full flavor cheese, and it's a great beer for spicier foods (think Tex-Mex). The American pale ale, with its citrus notes, can also compliment combination fish entrees that have some spice, like certain portions of sushi.

Rating: Four 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 Consensus: 85 (recommended) from Beer Advocate and 84 from Rate Beer.

The Verdict: Hopalicious is a great American pale ale and has quickly become a Madison favorite of bitter beer fans. I like it for its malty background, but the firm, bitter flavors dominate the body and finish in a crispness that lets you know, without doubt, that you are drinking a pale ale. This beer also has a wonderful citrus nose that compliments the hoppy qualities. If you enjoy a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale try this beer. It's even better!


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