Iowa has a lot of nice things. First and most famously, of course, they have corn, which is fashionable to bash these days, since it’s so heavily subsidized (and so much of it turns into sugary murder syrup and McNugget casing), but what’s better than a regular old ear of fresh corn? In exchange for all their wonderful corn (and slimy corn derivatives), the rest of the country has generously elected to let Iowa pick our president every fourth year; this is patently absurd, but also cool for Iowa, so we’re up to two nice things.
Iowa is the only one of the 50 states to have its entire eastern and western borders formed by rivers, the Mississippi to the right and the Missouri to the left, and rivers are the best bodies of water. Iowa also has the good fortune of abutting the great states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as the has-its-moments state of Illinois. Beaver is from Iowa.
The greatest of Iowa’s many good fortunes, however, is Toppling Goliath Brewing Company, a fantastic operation in Decorah, the largest city (population 8,127) in northeastern Iowa’s Winneshiek County. Toppling Goliath was founded in 2009, and its flagship beer is called Dorothy’s New World Lager. It is named after the founder’s grandma, which is pretty neat, and it is a pale lager, which is pretty Midwestern.
I’ve never had the pleasure of Dorothy’s company, and in fact I’ve only tried one Toppling Goliath beer, but I can still attest to TG’s meritorious service to the Craft Beer Movement™. Their PseudoSue American pale ale was the highlight of a very good drinking trip to Wisconsin last fall; it was one of the three or four best beers I drank in 2014, and it might be the best pale ale in the country.
I’ve never tried Three Floyds Zombie Dust, the only beer that scores higher than PseudoSue on BeerGraphs’s American Pale Ale Leaderboard, which automatically disqualifies me from declaring an official Best. Plus, there are just so many great pale ales out there that it’s tough to rank them without doing a controlled taste test. I’ve had nothing but great times with the highly acclaimed pale ales from Hill Farmstead and Trillium, and I hope to say the same soon about Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter. I’m not claiming those beers are inferior to PseudoSue in any objective sense, but I am saying that PseudoSue, which is named for a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil and hopped entirely with Citra, provided my favorite American pale ale experience.
My sloppy, old notes maintain that the 5.8-percent alcohol-by-volume PseudoSue opens with a surprisingly deep and sweet malt aroma before waves of citrus and tropical fruit take over. The notes mention pineapple, grapefruit, and mango, along with “cinnamon?” I also apparently found it to be “ultra-hoppy without being too bitter,” and doesn’t that sound lovely?
PseudoSue is currently only available in Iowa and Wisconsin, but a new partnership with Florida-based contract brewing company Brew Hub will expand Toppling Goliath’s production capacity, and they hope to break into Minnesota, Illinois, and Florida soon. I hate to tell you guys what to do, but I must insist that you try this beer as soon as possible. I guarantee you’ll love it, and there’s a chance it will become your favorite American pale ale.
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Image by Jim Cooke.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.