Alas, this is the final post in my triptych on Peace Tree Brewing Company of Knoxville, Iowa. Tonight I’ll have the last pair of beers currently available (outside of the brewery’s taphouse), two India pale ales. Fortunately it won’t be long before I can try more: a little birdie told me there’s an imperial stout coming in just a few weeks, and a Belgian blonde soon after that.
First up, the year-round Hop Wrangler 3, termed a “multinational IPA” for its combination of English and American malts and hops and Peace Tree’s Belgian yeast strain. Creamy ivory head sits atop a pale, rusty, lightly hazy beer. The hop aroma billows out, strongly fruity, with herbal undertones. Grapefruit, mango, and blood oranges intercut with pine and rose blossoms. Aromas of lemon and mint float above it all.
The bitterness is immediate, and though it is strong it’s also rounded and full, accompanied by a rich herbal hop flavor and just enough alcohol to notice. The spicy pine and mint of the English hops are joined by grapefruit from the American ones. A bit of a caramel malt sweetness in the background, and a bit of substance to the body, but overall not quite malty enough to provide the balance I would like.
From the Brewer’s Special Release Series (to my knowledge this beer is the series at the moment), I’m having the Double IPA. You know this beer was brewed at Peace Tree: it says so three separate times on the label. The double is a bit darker in color than the Hop Wrangler, more of a mahogany, opalescent, with some off-white head. The nose is strongly fruity with grapefruit and mango, as well as a piney herbal character, much like the Wrangler. However this one has a rich toasty maltiness that the other is lacking.
The difference between these two beers on the nose is not all that significant, but the flavor is worlds apart. The Double IPA has a solid malt character to balance the ridiculous hoppiness. The hops are still certainly the star: their exotic fruits and mint have an almost shisha-like quality, and the herbal character provides a grounding force. But the malt is not being pushed aside here, lending a flavor that reminds me of Hawaiian sweet bread, and creating a luscious body that handles the hops. Tasty.
Peace Tree has been making good beer and making it available, but not for very long. They stand in defiance to those who say the craft beer market is already saturated, proving that elbow grease and a little innovation is all it takes to carve out a niche and watch it flourish. If they can keep it up, they’re poised to go very far.
Peace Tree Double I.P.A.
Peace Tree Hop Wrangler 3