There are few names so well known throughout the craft beer community as Munster, Indiana's Three Floyds Brewing. For the past 19 years, the three Floyds behind the infamous brewery (brothers Nick and Simon, and their father Mike) have been leading force in spearheading the well-established Midwest/Chicagoland brewing scene. And they have the numbers to prove it: at the beginning in 1996, Three Floyds brewed 300 barrels, but in 2014, it was more 40,000. Currently, they're even fighting Indiana legislature to change the current hold law that caps most brewery production at 30,000 barrels to 90,000.
Besides ambitious production numbers and political engagement, there are other reasons why "not normal" is the brewery's official motto. Three Floyds has a propensity for producing unorthodox beers: IPAs with off the chart bitterness and sludgy, pitch black imperial stouts to name a few. Their brewpub at the Munster location constantly blares heavy metal over the loudspeakers, and they even have a holiday, Dark Lord Day, where thousands of Floyds fans will converge at the brewery to purchase a bottle of Dark Lord Day, their coveted Russian Imperial stout. Definitely not your run of the mill brewery.
For the first part of our Three Floyds tastings, the Space Station Middle Finger, Lord Rear Admiral, and Arctic Panzer Wolf, all of which had a surprising bottling freshness of one week. Let us know which of the wacky brews is your Three Floyds favorite with a comment below.
We were first surprised by this beer's windowpane clarity. The bottle poured a marigold honey body that formed a cream-colored head. Sweet fruit aromas were extremely apparent, as notes of apple and Asian pear dominated the muskier sawdust and moss. The taste is where things got weird though. Browned-apple stood out at the forefront alongside the hop-forward bitterness, but flavors of sugary Skittles also surfaced. Topping it all off was a toasted backend tinged with a kiss of orange marmalade.
The trend for an American style anything is to simply make the flavor and ABV of the original style a lot bigger. Three Floyds did just that with their Special Bitter Ale. The body was reminiscent of agave syrup, while the American theme carried over to the head when one taster described it as the color of "new baseball." Turning to the nose, an earthiness akin to standard ESB came throughalong with some stone fruit and rosemary. Things got Three Floyds-y once again with the taste. Several of us agreed on "stone soup" mixed in with malty sweetness, with a further unexpected chalky mouthfeel. Intriguing, and exceptionally representative of Three Floyds' style.
Saving the biggest for last, several tasters were taken aback upon discovering this Double IPA boasts a high IBU of 100 units. Still, the beer appeared normal in the pour: a Mott's Apple Juice gold body and a simple off-white head. The nose was also pretty standard for a DIPA with extra hoppy aromas of prickly pine that were tempered by the sweeter pineapple fragrances. Having built up anticipation from earlier beers, we were surprised by the fact that the taste was, well, not that bitter. The initial hop-forwardness recedes quickly to sweetness comparable to Fruit Loops, but also peels back for a savory layer reminiscent of a garlic-y bite.