After a lengthy absence, I have returned. Damn you, college, for interrupting my beer reviewing. With classes officially in the books for the semester, I figured I might as well take the time to sit down with a beer. Call this a pre-finals break.
I went to a local grocery store the other night in search of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. That beer has been a longtime favorite of mine, and I had only gotten a brief taste of the latest batch a couple of weeks ago. There was nary a six-pack to be found, so I searched the shelves for a hoppy alternative. A mysterious four-pack featuring a lumberjack-type figure caught my eye. I noticed that it was from Lazy Magnolia, a Mississippi brewer whose presence in South Carolina I was completely unaware of. The label boasts six of my favorite beer-related letters, "Rye" and "IPA," so how could I say no? My love of the IPA is well-documented, but I don't think I've had a chance to proclaim my love for rye beers. They're wonderful. I recommend Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye and Founders Red's Rye whenever I can. So why not grab Timber Beast? I've enjoyed Lazy Magnolia beers in the past (I think their Deep South Pale Ale [formerly Reb Ale] is quite underrated) so might as well pop the cap and see what happens.
Brewed by: Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company
Style: American Imperial Rye Pale Ale
Bottle style: 12 oz.
How does it look?
For once, a hoppy beer that I don't have to describe as amber-orange. This one's a bright orange, a shade lighter than copper, with a rich, bubbly white head. We'll call it two fingers wide. The foam bubbles away hastily. However, lacing remains stuck to the glass long after the liquid leaves. All in all, a pretty nice appearance. A bit lighter than any other rye beer I can remember having, which leads me to believe that the rye presence may not be as big as in the others I've tried. We shall see.
How does it smell?
Timber Beast has an interesting aroma. I'm definitely smelling more parts IPA than rye, but the hoppy component has multiple layers. Initial scents of bitter citrus peel give way to the sweetness of orange, which then takes over. The nose has plenty of sweet elements, and maybe even a tropical note like pineapple. At this point, I'm viewing this beer as mostly IPA with some rye thrown is as opposed to a beer with equal representation. A very light, spicy rye note rounds things out.
How does it taste?
We've got rye. That unmistakable, spicy rye flavor emerges to give Timber Beast an extra dimension. A small bit of sweetness hits up front, then gives way to the spicy rye and an almost herbal-tasting hop bitterness. That bitterness, like biting into a citrus peel, becomes the lasting flavor. Don't worry, though. It doesn't overpower, nor does it hang around long enough to become a nuisance. Equal parts rye and IPA shine through here. Also, a grainy element I didn't pick up in the nose makes an appearance.
How does it feel?
Timber Beast has a medium body, maybe a bit more. A soft carbonation level does little to break up the slick texture. Fine by me. It coats the inside of the mouth nicely, allowing that bitterness in the finish to linger just long enough.
How does it drink?
I can understand others rating this one a little lower on the drinkability scale because of that closing bitterness. Maybe they feel it dawdles a bit too long. I'm a bit of a procrastinator, myself, so I don't mind if those lasting hop flavors want to hang out for a bit longer. Then we get to the alcohol, which I neglected to mention earlier. Timber Beast weighs in at 9 percent, the triumphant result of summertime legislation allowing higher ABV beers to be brewed in the state of Mississippi. Honestly, I would have believed you had you told me that this beer was another 5 percenter. No boozy burn detracts from the flavor nor the aroma. Instead, I find myself looking at an empty pint glass and wondering how many four-packs are at my local grocery store. Lazy Magnolia's first foray into the world of high gravity beers goes down as a success in my book. Here's to many more.
Final score: 4/5 Pints
Thoughts about this beer? Got a suggestion for another one? Let me know in the comment box below!