Obtainable alert: If you’re crossing the border into Wisconsin soon looking for Toppling Goliath PseudoSue or Karben4 Fantasy Factory, you’re in luck.It’s the understatement of the century to state that there have a been a flurry of great new breweries that have hit the market in the last 5 years. Thanks to these new breweries, we have been afforded tons of new and interesting choices hitting our shelves every week. But with many smaller breweries experiencing growing pains and not being able to keep up with the Midwest’s never-ending thirst for the new and delicious, some of my favorite beers have fallen under my own self-created categorization known as “non-border-crossables.”
You see, the whole point of our Craft Beers to Cross the Border For segment is to point you towards new, delicious and obtainable beers you might not be able to procure in your home town. Notice I used the word obtainable? Yeah, the last thing we want you to do is hop in your car, drive 3 hours north, only to be told that you had no chance in hell in getting this certain bottle of beer, that is, unless you follow the breweries’ twitter feeds and are able to skip out of work 2 hours early to make a mad dash to the liquor store to obtain one lowly bomber. While I’ve spent many a pathetic afternoons skipping out of work early to wait in line for beers, I just can’t bear myself to do that anymore and trust that many-a-aging beer geeks, like myself, perhaps share my sentiment.
So, I’m happy to present to you a couple of beers that I’ve been digging on hard over the last year, but have most certainly fallen under non-border-crossables. Thankfully, due to brewery expansions and increased production, these beers can now be fairly easily obtained at most good liquor stores in the greater Madison area.
Toppling Goliath PseudoSue Pale Ale
Any hop head worth his weight in lupuline has heard of Toppling Goliath Brewery from Decorah, Iowa.
Over the past couple of years, these guys have rightfully earned their place as masters of hops, brewing beers that are downright explosive. PseudoSue Pale Ale has pretty much been responsible for TG’s stellar hop reputation and for good reason. The minute I first popped a bottle of this a few years back, I knew this beer was of epic proportions.
Upon first whiff, a tropical fruit salad hits your nostrils; passion fruit, peach, pineapple and ripe mandarin orange come through with underlying aromas of resinous pine. In the mouth, this beer has a firm, crackery malt bill holding it up, but let’s not even go there. This beer is all about the tropical, pithy hop bitterness.
It’s a wonder how these guys just pack in so much hop character and still make this pale ale sessionable.
Truly a masterful beer and finally worth crossing the border for.
Karben4 Fantasy Factory IPA
I’ve been a Karben4 fanboy for quite some time now. This small, Madison brewery has been straight and true in making great beers with an English inspired kick. Honestly, it took me a while to finally make it around to Fantasy Factory (mostly due to availability), but once I started finding super fresh 6-packs of this at my local beer cooler, it was all over.
This has quickly become a sort of benchmark IPA for me. While I love lean and dry hop bomb IPA’s, I’m a sucker for a heavier malt bill and Fantasy Factory most definitely offers this.
In the nose this beer is ripe with dank citrus zest, sweet pineapple and earthy pine needles. In the mouth, this beer has surprising weight on the palate, showcasing a caramelly and bready malt profile. Nonetheless, firm hop bitterness keeps some finesse, making this easy drinking.
I keep coming back to this beer time and time again and have yet to be disappointed. Six pack bottles can easily be found at most liquor establishments in the Madison area, or for guaranteed freshness, swing by the brewery.