2 O’Clock Tasting:
Knee Deep Brewing Co.
Jeremy Warren, brewmaster at Knee Deep Brewing Co.
, started his beer career as a hired gun—for the first few months, he and Knee Deep solely produced brews on contract for the northern Nevada market. Then, in the fall of 2010, he met Jerry Moore, and the two began their ascent into becoming a craft brewery proper. Five years later, they now have an 18,000 square-foot facility in Auburn, Calif., distribution in 11 states, and a quietly rising reputation.
Stylistically, Knee Deep's focus is simple: with little exception (though the last beer in this tasting is one of them), they make IPAs. However, these aren't the India Pale Ales you're used to. Many of Knee Deep's brews twist and turn that hoppy, bitter beer's now-ubiquitous formula into new and intriguing forms, from dry-hopped Red Ales to Black Rye IPAs. Knee Deep's dedication to finding the best ingredients for their brews is reflected in their choice of hops and malts, which they readily advertise. That same dedication is palpable when the beers come across your tongue, and it's an experience worth sharing. They also have a range of brews much wider than the selection for our tasting, so let us know which Knee Deep suds are your favorites.
Citra Single Hop Extra Pale Ale
45 IBUs | 7.0% ABV As is increasingly true with pale ales in this, the age of IPAs, this beer is a bit of a misnomer. The "Extra Pale" in its name likely refers to the malt rounding out the Citra hops (the malt presence thus removing the beer from the territory of IPAs), but its color was closer to a Colonial Maple wood stain, a deep orange, with persistent bubbles and a perceptible stickiness. The nose contained an explosive sweetness, rioting with fruity aromas ranging from peach to pineapple (as well as a strong hop presence...are we sure this isn't an IPA?). The taste, then, was a delightful, complementary surprise. Rather than mirroring the sweetness of its scent, the Citra Single Hop was hop-forward, yet juicy, with a chalky bitterness reminiscent of grapefruit. The disparate elements came together nicely, yielding a rounded finish with a pleasurable malt presence.
Breaking Bud Imperial Pale Ale
50 IBUs | 6.7% ABV Alert: Pun Flood Warning (and maybe spoilers). The BrBu pours with a chemical-jumpsuit yellow and a Walter White head, full of tiny bubbles and unrealized dreams leading to murderous impulses. Though we wouldn't typically describe an aroma this way, Knee Deep themselves describe the beer as "dank," a sentiment with which our tasters heartily agreed. Said dankness was well balanced by a saccharine peach aroma more explosive than Hector's wheelchair. On the tongue, the earthiness and minerality came through, with a stronger grapefruit presence than even the Citra. The lingering bitterness on the roof of the mouth was totally Kafkaesque, yo (we don't really know what we mean, either).
30 IBUs | 6.3% ABV The Tanilla is truly unlike any porter we've ever tasted, and likely one of few (if not the only) made with 100 percent, grade-A Tahitian vanilla beans. Visually, the Tanilla is jet black at the center, fading to a vaguely orange tinge at the edges, and topped with a fizzy, beige head. Our tasters smelled a slightly complicated version of sweetness in its depths, from rudimentary vanilla and coffee, to the more intriguing aesthetics of chocolate sprinkles, coffee soda and Kahlua. One of the strangest descriptors given by a taster turned out to be the most accurate: the "admittedly too many" coffee and chocolate sodas he has tried over the years. With the thinness and carbonation complemented by sweetness that faded away to a nuanced baker's chocolate flavor, this was an apt comparison. Trust us, the Tamilla is truly a unique porter, and worth a taste.