A slanted and endless survey of what’s pouring in Oshkosh, tallied
What: Central Waters Illumination & New Glarus IIPA. A duel dose of Double IPAs from Wisconsin.
Where: Central Waters Illumination and New Glarus IIPA are available at Gardina's in the packaged beer section. New Glarus IIPA is also available in a number of other Oshkosh locations including Festival Foods and the north side Pick 'n Save store.
Why: Because a good way to get a handle on beers such as these is to drink them side-by-side. These are massive beers in every way. Both are north of 9% ABV. Flavor-wise they’re even bigger. Pairing them creates a contrast and presents flavors that otherwise get lost amid their pummeling rush of hops, malt and alcohol. Let’s cut right to the chase, which beer is better? I’d give the slight edge to IIPA. I prefer the juicy, sweet-pineapple aroma and flavor of its hopping to the piney, resinous hop profile of Illumination. The New Glarus beer has a bit lighter body, though, which leads to a raking hop bitterness in the finish. Illumination is maltier, chewier. Its hop flavors are more integrated with its malt base, making for a much smoother beer overall. Not that these are supposed to be smooth, easy, drinking beers to begin with. These are aggressive, outré ales made for people who desire loud, gnarly explosions of flavor. Go to it, freaks! Just one word of advice: I tend to store my beer on the warm side – about 48ºf – and neither of these benefit from being served that warm. Once you’ve poured the beer, the hop aroma quickly degenerates at these temps developing into a musky, sweaty reek. My next round with these will start a bit colder.