Port Huron Brewing of Wisconsin Dells will celebrate its fifth anniversary in April. Owner and brewmaster Tanner Brethorst is grateful for his success: “We’ll continue to grow on our terms and make sure that what’s going out is good.” Brethorst recently ventured into the popular and competitive world of India Pale Ales (IPAs) for the first time. His take on the style is called 12 Bottom IPA.
What is it? 12 Bottom IPA from the Port Huron Brewing Company of Wisconsin Dells.
Style: The India Pale Ale (IPA) emphasizes the flavors of hops, which provide herbal, citrus, piney and bitter character to both aroma and flavor. IPAs are medium-bodied and often golden- to copper-colored. They range from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent ABV.
Background: Brethorst calls 12 Bottom IPA a distinctive “Midwest” version of an IPA: “It doesn’t punch you in the face with bitterness like a west coast version,” he says. “I wanted to come up with an IPA that would have hop flavor, but the bitterness wouldn’t scare people away.” Brethorst’s beer is an approachable take on the style, featuring Wisconsin-grown Cascade, Skyrocket and Nugget hops.
12 Bottom is a new beer for Port Huron. It’s been offered in six-packs only since last December. “We messed around for months making it in 10-gallon pilot batches before we landed on the recipe,” Brethorst says. “I worked hard to come up with an IPA that people would want to drink more than one of.” It ends up around 7 percent ABV, and sells in six-packs for $8-$9.
The brewery’s official anniversary party will be April 15, noon to 10 p.m. Along with music and the release of special beers, the new beer garden will open.
Aroma: A light herbal hoppiness with a hint of bready malt.
Appearance: Clear copper color and a thick soft tan head.
Texture: Medium-bodied with roundness.
Taste: A pleasant citrus hoppiness with hints of tropical fruitiness. There’s a firm malty backbone to 12 Bottom that lends a spicy complexity to the background flavor.
Finish/Aftertaste: Mild, hoppy spiciness, balanced with the malt.
Glassware: The Willi Becher with its inward flare at the lip will focus the tropical hoppiness of the nose while showcasing the beer’s clear copper color.
Pairs well with: modestly spicy entrees as well as grilled burgers and steaks. It also pairs well with sharp cheddar. There’s great versatility with this IPA.
The Verdict: Port Huron 12 Bottom IPA has plenty of hop flavor, with a hearty malty backbone. Overall, it’s very flavorful, an IPA with balance. There’s a softening in its hop character because of a firm caramel, bready, malty background. It’s similar to the complex flavor profile found in imperial IPAs, but without being so heavy on the palate.