Beer: Bipolar Express Brewery: Historic Brewing Co. Style: Spice/Herb Beer ABV: 6.8 percent
Come on, everyone! Hop aboard the Bipolar Express! Or don't. Whatever. I hate you.
With so many new breweries entering the marketplace, the craft beer lover's experience is becoming increasingly marked by opposite extremes. These breweries are up and down; they're cheap, they're expensive; they're delicious, they're disgusting. So it's refreshing to see a beer-maker pop up with their game locked in from the start. Historic Brewing Company is lithium for the weary beer geek.
Located in Flagstaff, this new brewery is brought to you by the Kennelly family, a clan that owns several restaurants in Northern Arizona as well as Grand Canyon Winery, located in Williams. Historic's their newest venture. It opened in September.
Historic made their Valley debut during the Phoenix Brewers Invitational earlier this month. Though hundreds of beers were being poured, Historic's Piehole Porter, brewed with cherries and Indian vanilla beans, was the one people wouldn't shut up about.
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That brew should start showing up on handles around town later this month, but the Bipolar Express is pulling into the station now. The brewery says the beer, made with cinnamon and ginger, is "like 8 shiny reindeer in a pint glass" -- I imagine a cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookie and a gingerbread cookie making sweet, sweet love. Root beer-brown in hue, the liquid is fairly clear when held to the light, revealing rust-orange highlights. One finger of pancake batter foam descends slowly but never leaves completely. Notes of gingerbread and ground ginger spice swirl in the nose, offset by noticeable ethanol, a touch of molasses, cinnamon sticks and splashes of chocolate and black licorice. And the flavor -- well, it's like Christmas in your mouth. Spicy cinnamon and ginger are the main players, but caramel, bitter nuts and toast make appearances as well. A smooth, silky body matches the delicate spice blend while alcohol warms the chest a bit. It's easy to drink, but a glass or two will get you.
Along with Bipolar Express, Historic has a couple other holiday brews. Sassy Pants is a brown ale brewed with sarsaparilla, sassafras root, wintergreen, vanilla and unfermentable milk sugar. Another, Tropical Heat Wave, is a pale ale enhanced by the addition of organic mango and locally smoked chipotle peppers. For now, these specialty brews are only available at Historic's tasting room in Flag. But you can jump on the Bipolar Express today, and I suggest you do. Or not. Whatever.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.