Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lagunitas Brewing A Little Sumpin' Wild Ale Review

Every kid in the 70's and 80's loved Superfriends.  First off, the intro music is totally bad ass.   You also had to love how everyone on the team brought their own special talents into the mix.  The Trinity brought their respective games - Superman brought his ability to do, well, just about everything; Batman brought his unmatched guile, and Wonder Woman brought whatever the hell she does, but does well.  Depending on what iteration of the Justice League you watched, you might see some niche skills from players like Aquaman.  Everyone contributed in a way that others could not.

What if I made a Super Tap of the world's best beers, featuring the best beer in each category.  You'd see a lot of different brewers' tap handles.  Victory would have a handle for some type of German beer, perhaps one of their fine pilsners.  Founders would certainly get lines for their dark beers.  Three Floyds, of course, would undoubtedly have taps for Dark Lord (imagine Dark Lord on tap at a neighborhood pub) and some of their other awesomeness.  Stone IPA would represent as the gold standard for American IPA's.  Then there's Lagunitas.  Laggie does many things well, but their true superpower is in making the best limited-release hoppy beers out there. 

Lagunitas Sucks typifies this ability - they couldn't release Brown Shugga last year so they made a seamless, incredibly drinkable, hoppy Christmas beer that might be their best overall beer to date.  There's also Waldo's Special Ale, a herbaceously hoppy Laggie beer par exellence released every 4/20, dude!  Another fine example of Laggie's magic with hops is A Little Sumpin' Wild.  They take the base of the malted-wheat Little Sumpin' Sumpin', add in Belgian yeast, and hop it till it can't see straight, and you get a 9.4% monster.  As a Belgian IPA should you choose to categorize it that way, it rates among the best, most robust, and most memorable of its kind.  Sumpin' Wild offers layer upon layer of different flavors and aromas.  Slightly rusted orange in color, its chunky white head emits odors of pine, citrus, grass, and a lot of herbs and spices.  Carbonation is tight and without gaps.  It bites down hard.  Of course, hops are the denominator in this equation, and Beer advocate lists this as a hefty 72 IBUs.  Heavy doses of pine, grapefruit, and even tangerine hops explode in your mouth and linger on the palate.

All that alone would make for an excellent IPA.  But this beer's prestige - as in, the pledge, the turn, and the prestige - is the spicy, earthy character brought on by the Belgian yeast.  This earthy undertone is highly prominent and lingers on the finish, along with grass, a bit of funky must, and some roots.  These profiles are every bit as prominent as the hops.  They alternate with the hops on your palate, which gives this beer a stunning complexity.  The sensational robustness of all of these competing flavors forces you to sip it. 

If this beer were a Superfriend, it would be Batman to Sucks' Superman.  Sumpin' Wild is the darker one, more complex, more conflicted than the more obviously gifted Sucks, which is everyone's favorite, a crowd pleaser, and deservedly so.  Sucks would proudly stand in the front of the Justice League lineup, hands on its sides.  Sumpin' Wild would be lurking the background, near the forefront, but not in front, and would be brooding, sizing you up.  It's smarter than you.  It's more complex.  It's Lagunitas' most complex beer to date.  And it just might be their crowning achievement.

4.7 of 5 stars. 

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