By Pints Templars Staff Blogger Dave Drury
Images By Dave Drury
Hailstorm Brewing has been crafting beers out of Tinley Park, Illinois since April of 2014. I was first introduced to them when I found their Prairie Madness IPA way back when they first opened but have only had two of their beers since; Alabama Hot Tub (which is a delicious wheat ale) and Dominatrix, their triple IPA.
Despite the fact that I haven’t had as many of their brews as I should have, Hailstorm has been making quite the name for themselves in the past three years. In 2015 they were awarded a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their maibock Rock Out with Maibock Out and last year Thrillist named them one of the best up-and-coming breweries in the Midwest!
But, for a long time now, there were two beers I had been searching for – their Northeast-style IPAs; Cumulus and Nimbus (side note: to my surprise I just found out that they now have two more that I’ll need to search for; Cirrus and Stratus).
When I went to my local liquor store the other day and saw that they had both Cumulus AND Nimbus in stock, I bought them both on the spot. Each four-pack of 16 ounce cans cost $10.99, which is just about average so I was happy to hand over the money.
As soon as they were cold enough I was ready to dive right in.
I started with Nimbus, a Northeast session IPA made with Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Kohatu, and Mosaic hops along with Munich, Pilsner, Rye, Vienna, and Wheat malt. It was canned on 12/21/16, so it was only a month old (as of writing this). Inside the one pint can was a 4.7% ABV and 40 IBU.
When I poured it from the tallboy, Nimbus came out a cloudy, muted orange color with some light sediment floating near the bottom and just over a finger of pretty dense head topping it off. After just a few moments the head had dispersed into just a dusting, with some accumulation around the edge of the glass.
On the nose Nimbus was just as juicy as I was hoping for! There were huge tropical fruit notes – mango, pineapple, grapefruit – and loads of orange. A sweet, light malt backing hid behind the hops. I was excited to drink this beer before…but after smelling it, I just couldn’t wait.
My first sip starting with a twinge of carbonation (more than I was expecting) and a light hop bite before my tongue was flooded with flavor...and it was just as the aroma had advertised.
My palate was filled with big, juice flavors of Mango and grapefruit and orange. But, to my disappointment, they didn’t last terribly long. And instead, about halfway through the sip, there was a piney hop bitterness that stung my taste buds and lingered for far longer than the juicy flavors.
Nimbus then ends on a slightly resinous, pretty dry note with the bitterness still hanging around. The only cure for that…taking another sip.
As the beer was quickly drained from my cup, the bubbles that did remain didn’t do much to the glass as there were only a few streaks of foam lacing, the rest sliding back down to the surface of the beer rather quickly.
Overall, Nimbus is a pretty Northeast IPA. It has some great flavors but they don’t last as long as I would like. Sadly, it’s not nearly as juicy as others I’ve had and a tad bit more bitter than most as well, which is surprising given the lower IBU rating.
If you’re a fan of the style, definitely check this one out…but there are better options in Chicago (Son of Juice from Maplewood comes to mind). 8/10
So with Nimbus gone I turned my sights towards Cumulus.
Cumulus is a full blown Northeast IPA (not a session like Nimbus) made with Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, Kohatu, and Simcoe hops and Honey, Optic, Vienna, and Wheat malt. However, it packs more of a punch with a 6.3% ABV and 60 IBU. It was canned (again, as of writing this) just three weeks ago on 1/6/17.
As I poured Cumulus it settled even cloudier and murkier in color than Nimbus. The creamy dark orange beer built a small coating of thin white bubbles; no more than a finger thick that quickly fizzled away.
If Nimbus’ aroma was juicy, I have no idea what to call this one…it was, as far as I’m concerned, just boozy orange juice – the new mimosa, if you will. When I closed my eyes and inhaled, it was pure orange with some tangerine and grapefruit lingering behind.
I didn’t even want to try it…the smell was enough. But for research purposes, of course I went on.
My first sip starts with very little carbonation and a thicker, creamier mouthfeel. There was a little bite from the hops that reminded me this was, in fact, a beer and not just juice.
And from that little nibble the hops gave me, the flavors began to rise up. It was heavy on the tangerine and oranges and was, in fact, a tiny bit tart up front. The citrus flavors lasted much longer on Cumulus, and added some mango and passion fruit notes as well.
As the sip began to fade, the same piney hop bitterness Nimbus had started to sneak up. However, unlike Nimbus, Cumulus’ malt profile added a light sweetness that eliminated the majority of the bitterness. Instead, and even though it ends just as dry as Nimbus and is higher in IBU, it doesn’t seem as bitter and has a much nicer finish.
I will say this beer disappeared from my glass much quicker than I thought it would. The easier finish and great flavors had me going back for more at an alarming rate. And, as the liquid was drained, the few bubbles that remained held their own against the sides of my glass – leaving a nice webbing across all sides.
Overall, this was what I was hoping for with these Northeast style beers. That super hazy, incredibly juicy, pretty hopped up yet still easy to drink taste…it was worth searching for.
I see online people saying this isn’t exactly a true Northeast IPA and, even if that is the case, it doesn’t take away from how good this beer was. Check out Hailstorm and find this beer. 9/10
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