Brewer Tim Wauters of Lake Louie with his rye IIPA.
Lake Louie Brewing of Arena is increasing its beer offerings in 2017. “This year I’m going to do some unique beers, whether they sell or not,” says brewery owner and brewmaster Tom Porter. In the past month, Porter’s new releases have included his first pilsner; a spiced Scotch ale named Ginger Hipster; and a custom four-pack of Warped Speed Scotch ale packaged with a 750mL bottle of Bulleit Bourbon. Hitting shelves and local taps this week is a bold double IPA called Chicken Dance that’s loaded with rye.
What is it? Chicken Dance from Lake Louie Brewing of Arena.
Style: The double IPA, also called an imperial IPA, is a bolder and more robust version of the India Pale Ale. Among the desired traits in a double IPA is fresh hop aroma and flavor with a strong underpinning of malt for body and balance. The hoppy qualities will vary between piney and tropical, depending upon the preference of the brewer. Double IPAs can be quite strong at 7.5-10.5 percent ABV.
Background: For the past several years, interest in rye whiskey has been growing. Rye, as a malted grain, isn’t just for whiskey. Brewers too like the way it adds sharpness, spiciness and dryness to beer. It can also augment a beer’s color with dark amber and copper hues. Chicken Dance is loaded with rye: three different types go into the mash. “We call this a triple rye, Double IPA,” says Porter. “That’s because we don’t know what else to call it.”
The beer was developed by Lake Louie brewers Tim Wauters and Patrick Seibold. Wauters came up with the initial recipe; then Seibold took the formula home and made a homebrew-sized batch that was used to help dial in the list of ingredients and especially the amount of rye.
There’s also plenty of hop flavor to meld with all that rye. The hop bill includes Magnum, Zeus, Ahtanum and Simcoe. Hop bitterness comes in around 60-70 IBUs (International Bitterness Units); however there’s so much rye, this beer tastes much hoppier than the IBU number would indicate.
The name clearly refers to the popular dance from Badger games, weddings etc., but also alludes to the fact that rye is sometimes used for chicken feed. The promotional art for the beer features chickens playing instruments and was inspired by Porter’s favorite band (who he’s been known to play with), Screamin’ Gene & the Lake Louie Growlers, which plays the Chicken Dance as part of its repertoire.
The beer finishes around 8 percent ABV, and is available in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles for around $10-12/each. It’s also on tap in select craft beer hangouts. Most of the initial production of Chicken Dance went into kegs for draught sales, so finding four-packs might prove a bit challenging. Porter hasn’t committed to making more, at least not yet.
Aroma: Spicy and bready, with a light hint of citrus hoppiness.
Appearance: Clear, copper color with a soft tan head.
Texture: Medium- to full-bodied with softness.
Taste: A bready-earth and spicy beginning with lots of dry-rye spiciness throughout.
Finish/Aftertaste: Alcohol warmth that’s accented by the spicy dryness of the rye. The rye finish lingers, but not for long.
Glassware: The Willi Becher’s inward flare near the lip will gently focus the aromatics of hops and rye, which display the beer’s vivid deep copper color.
Pairs well with: Spicy pastas or a reuben sandwich; a sharp cheddar or a blue cheese.
The Verdict: Lake Louie’s Chicken Dance has a lot of rye, which elevates the beer’s overall bitterness. Some may find the rye a little too intense. However I like the melding of the citrus and pine of the hops with the spicy breadiness of the rye. Chicken Dance is a strong beer, and you’ll feel it with the warmth in the finish. The bottom line: The rye makes it distinctive and quite different from other double IPAs. Those who enjoy hops and assertive spicy bitterness will want to try it.