CITRA + BELGIAN yeast: the beer world needs more of this joyful marriage. Ale Asylum isn’t wrong for putting an exclamation point on their own version, a deep golden 7.5 % IPA with two fingers of sticky whitish head and distinctively delectable notes of shortbread, mango, grapefruit, and lemon. Almost like a liquefied fruitcake—in a good way. When swirled in the glass the tropical features of Citra are especially prominent, but at warmer temperature the bouquet turns an unexpected corner, slipping a few scouring yeast phenols and dank, piney, and slightly catty hop qualities into the mix. It’s a complex first act, alternately lush and bracing as it hopscotches back and forth across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, Bedlam!’s flavor is not quite equal to its aroma.
Medium-bodied, the beer is more generically malty and somehow ‘woody’ than reminiscent of orange, honey, or caramel. The sweetness that develops is more like stone fruits—peach, especially—derived more from yeast and Citra than the malt, it seems. Bitterness is sneaky, meanwhile, flitting around the edges of the tongue instead of sitting on the back of the throat. Carbonation seems a little more elevated than some other Ale Asylum beers, though this is likely just an impression abetted by its lighter body. The finish is very clean finish, alcohol being hardly apparent, and the dusty (not quite funky) yeast and scrubbing hops almost cancel each other out.
None of this describes a subpar flavor—it only seems a little condensed and blocky after the diverse fireworks of Bedlam!’s aroma. If the experience were reversed (look first, taste second, smell last), its upward trajectory would have been joyously unchecked. As it is, a slightly underpowered finale can’t stop Bedlam! from putting on a memorable show.
Served: On tap (Bottom Lounge, Chicago)