Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Company)

Style: American Strong Ale (Imperial Mild/ Uber ESB)

9.7% ABV

From: Petaluma, CA

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Brewer’s Note: We brewed this especially bitter ale in remembrance of the 2005 St Patrick’s Day Massacre and in commemoration of our 20-day suspension that followed. The ABC conducted an undercover investigation of our brewery, finding us guilty of operating a “Disorderly House.” We did the crime. We did the time. We got the bragging rights.”

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The beer’s label is made in the beautiful thick paper that all Lagunitas labels are made in, which is awesome and has a very pleasing texture.  Its very text heavy, and a little cluttered, but it does tend to handle the heavy text well, and looks interesting, almost like a cartoon newspaper, if that makes sense.  I like the simple fonts, as they look cool.  This label is neat, but it does have a lot of ugly unneeded text on the bottom that could be thrown on the side or something…  This label is worthy of scrapbooking, but is a little short of shelf worthy.

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The beer pours a rusty brown-red with a small eggshell white head that fades quickly into a scrim with some big soapy bubbles floating around in it.  In body, the beer appears clean of particles with a slight chill haze and a darkness from the thicker malts in the beer.  It leaves a lacing network of thin, slippery, and wet dots and strands along the sides of the glass.  On the nose, the beer smells like a big old pine tree was shoved into a bowl of pithy grapefruits.  A smooth caramel malt with touches of toffee and biscuit sits beneath the huge hops, but really this beer is all about the big old piney bouquet that nearly drips from the nose and does have a touch of dankness to it, as well as some muted tropical fruit smells that blend with the sweet malts.  On the tongue, the beer tastes hugely bitter from the hops with a good creamy sweet malt underneath, a light touch of acid, and a big, sweet, shivering punch from the alcohol in this beer.  In flavor, the beer begins as sweet grapefruit juice with touches of pineapple and orange, working into resinous pine with big bitter shivers that wriggle over the tongue.  The flavor displays sweet toffee and caramel in light splashes throughout the taste as the bitter flavors move in waves across the tongue, but the bitters are the stars of the flavor.  Alcohol also adds a slightly cloying sweetness to the tongue, though it is balanced out by the huge bitters of the beer.  The finish runs hot with alcohol and piney hops, which is not the most pleasant thing, and does cut back on what had been a very pleasing explosion of flavors.  The aftertaste is bitter and slightly medicinal with very faint touches of sweet biscuit and pithy grapefruit on the tongue.  In the mouth, the beer feels just slightly on the heavier side of medium with a creamy and weak carbonation that only provides a slight scrub against the big sweet alcoholic flavors of the beer.  The mouth is left with a lovely bitter burn and some acid-neutralizing saliva on the sides of the tongue.  Overall, this is a nice hoppy American strong ale.  Its alcohol is a little out of check, but that is to be expected in the beer style.  This beer displays beautiful amounts of hoppiness alongside nice mellowing malts, and that is quite nice.  This beer is much more of a sipper than a chugger, but is lovely for the cool nights of early spring.  I do wish there was a little more carbonation and a little less alcohol in the taste, but overall this is a good beer.  Try it.

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4.06/5

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