Belgian IPA – 5.6% ABV – 55 IBU
Chainbreaker took a special place in my heart when I first tasted it from the tap in a pub here in Chicago (more on that later).
Craft beers are starting to be like dogs… there are boutique designer mutts popping up left and right and the trend, I predict, shall continue. The nomenclature here that I am about to lay down is likely to make your head spin as much as 12 of these beers through a gravity fed beer bong out of the 2nd story window of a frat house.
Chainbreaker is not a typical IPA. It’s not even a typical Belgian IPA. Belgian IPA’s are known to be American India pale ale-inspired hoppy Belgian ales (“American IPA”; does that make it American Indian?). To put it simply: they are American-style pale ales using Belgian yeasts. And so they tend to be light gold and yellow in color, and a bit on the bitter side when in comparison to the typical Belgian ale: more malt and hops, less brown sugar and bubble-gum. But it’s all there. Think of it as the lovechild of Delirium Tremens and Centennial IPA.
And when you pour a Chainbreaker you now have one with wheat, which is special here. Also a noteworthy characteristic: Belgian IPA’s typically range from 6% – 12% ABV, and at 5.6% this is pretty much a session beer. So, what we have here is a Belgian American India pale ale witty session beer (with coriander and orange peel). Do you follow me? No? Well then… FUCK IT. Just drink this beer and enjoy it. You’re welcome.
Chainbreaker pours with a cloudy, hazy, lemon-yellow color; like dull gold that does not shine. The head is antique white, 1-2 fingers, soft, and admirable. It is a very pretty beer. The aroma is almost completely absent, but when I got close to it I sort of detected a “new rubber” aroma, like an inflatable raft at the beach. I know it sounds weird but it’s not bad.
The flavor is excellent: slight malt, earth and bread, heavy on the citrus, not very bitter, and the crispy cool spiciness of coriander and clove. It is very low in the flavor or sensation of alcohol.
The flavor parts as the after-flavor kicks in with a bubblegum sweetness, and finishes by leaving a dry and slightly bitter finish. It has a watery seltzer feel to it that borders on creamy. The carbonation is strong but does not make your throat itch. This is a style of a style. It is refreshing, delicious, and gets two big Deltoid thumbs up.
And here is my personal bond with this beer (I know you have been waiting with bated breath for this): when I was in college I broke a girl’s heart. She and I had fooled around and partied quite a bit together, as college kids do. At a formal social event to which she invited me as her date, she caught me in a very pornographic situation with one of her sorority sisters… to which she responded by laying a physical beat-down on said sorority sister and a high speed chase in pursuit of me, on foot, through the halls, lobbies, and back-of-house areas of the hotel. Thankfully my athletic talent and fleet-footed ability saved me from meeting the same fate as her sister who I had last seen in the form of a pretzel on the carpeted floor of the top level corridor.
I tainted the evening with some bad drama and ruined the night for almost everyone. For a long time I felt bad about that; and I carried with me a guilt that reminded me of a heavy chain. When I moved to Chicago I contacted the same lass who I disrespected during the intoxicated prime of my youth, and met her out for some drinks. I hadn’t seen her in over 13 years. I even apologized for my behavior. She happily forgave me. The chain of guilt had been broken. And the first drink I had that evening, which was the first time I had ever tasted this particular drink, was Deschutes Chainbreaker. Barring graphic details this is a 100% true story.
Coincidence, or cosmic message? Either way, if you are feeling guilty about anything at all, break that chain with one of these beers. Apologize. Forgive. Let it go. And get sloshed in the process with this delicious beer! The satisfaction you get will transcend the beer drinking experience itself.