Capital Brewery has released a new beer that most of its longtime patrons thought would never appear on the shelves next to Island Wheat, Supper Club and various bocks. This spring, the Middleton brewery is debuting Mutiny, its first ever hopped-up India Pale Ale, one that is now in its central stable of year-round offerings.
What is it? Mutiny by Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin.
Style: The India Pale Ale (IPA) emphasizes the bitterness of hops, which provide herbal, citrus and piney character to both aroma and flavor. IPAs are medium-bodied and often golden- to copper-colored. They range from 5.5% to 7.5% ABV. The IPA beer style emerged in the 1700s when British brewers found that using a large amount of hops would help preserve beer during long sea voyages. In recognition of that origin, Capital has named its version "Mutiny."
Background: While some may speculate that last fall's departure of longtime Capital brewmaster Kirby Nelson is the reason for this beer's name, that's actually not the case says Brian Destree, who handles Capital's brewmaster and production responsibilities. Destree says he wanted to name this beer "Paradigm," because this assertively hoppy ale signals a big shift for a brewery known for more traditional German lagers. But as it came time to select the name, he and other Capital staff were intensely debating with brewery general manager Tom Stitgen about what the IPA should be called when someone suggested that there was a mutiny brewing over the issue. The maritime idea immediately won everyone over as a perfect name for Capital's first IPA.
Destree based his recipe for Mutiny on blind taste-testing he conducted last November and December. He took about 10 IPAs currently on the market to a few bars around Madison to gauge what drinkers liked. The three or four most popular were those with assertive citrus bitterness. So that element was central to his recipe for Mutiny. The beer's hoppy bite reflects American hop varieties of Warrior, Simcoe and Cascade. This last variety, in particular, offer distinctive a grapefruit citrus aroma and flavor and are often the signature hops in the American Pale Ale. Destree uses a blended mixture for dry hopping -- a process in which hops are added directly to the aging beer.
Mutiny takes about four weeks to make. It finishes at 6.2% ABV and 70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). In contrast, Capital's U.S. Pale Ale, a beer that is supposed to offer less bitterness, finishes at around 38 IBUs. Mutiny is available in 12-ounce bottles, cans and on draught. Six-packs sell for $8-$9.
Capital also just released an even bigger hop-bomb of a brew named Capsized. It's an Imperial IPA that comes in at 9.2% ABV and approximately 90 IBUs. That beer is sold in 22-ounce bomber bottles for $7-$9.
The brewery has also released its annual spring seasonal Maibock. And the Beverage Testing Institute just awarded a sixth Platinum medal to Capital's Blonde Doppelbock in the 2013 World Beer Championships, giving it a blind taste testing score of 97 (superlative rating) on a 100-point scale. Blonde Doppelbock was also awarded (PDF) a Bronze in the 2012 World Beer Cup.
- Aroma: Medium, but firm citrus hoppiness.
- Appearance: Clear golden copper with a medium soft, light-tan head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied, bubbly and crisp.
- Taste: The hoppiness comes in two waves. An initial floral hoppiness is followed by touches of malty-biscuit tones, then a dryness that builds.
- Finish/Aftertaste: The finish is mild, but firmly dry. And, it's a dryness that builds throughout enjoying a bottle.
Glassware: The inward flare of the lip of the tulip pint (Guinness-style) or the Willi Becher glass helps push the aromas to the nose. What's more, this beer offers a bright golden-copper color, and those glasses accentuate its appearance.
Pairs well with: The IPA is a style that goes great with spicy food, so find an entrée with some heat to compete with its bitterness. If you enjoy cheese pairings, try it with one that's semi-hard. It is very nice with the Cave Aged (white) cheddar from Hook's -- the earthy-cheddar flavor blends with the citrus of the hops. Bleu cheese can also work well with IPAs.
Rating: Three Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: Capital's first IPA is definitely worth a try. Mutiny is not a hop monster, but it should find favor with drinkers who like bitterness but want to enjoy more than one beer at a sitting. While this beer has a sharp grapefruit-citrus bitterness, it's not an aggressive IPA. It has a nice malt base, which gives it some balance, but like any respectable IPA, the hops must win in the end -- and Mutiny delivers. I find its hops assertive, crisp and clean, with a dryness to the finish that builds on the palate.