Blue Collar Brew Review – Great Lakes Chillwave Double IPA

Great Lakes BreweryI paid another visit to the down-the-road beer store, Route 6 Liquors in Minooka. I like going there because, although their selection is small, they seem to have their finger on the pulse of the beer community. Mike, the proprietor, usually has some hard to get brews in the back and the locals know it. They have more beers from 3Floyds on the shelves each time I visit. One potential customer was shuffling sixpacks looking for that last elusive Zombie Dust he heard about.

Mike knows his beer and many times we briefly chat about new releases or distribution hangups and why he has certain beers while Morris doesn’t. Those are all the reasons I visit Route 6 every so often. The 24 mile round trip is tolerated because of Mike’s selection and, well, because of Mike.

Chillwave fourOn a visit earlier this week, he pointed out his newest arrival, a Beer from Great Lakes Brewing called Chillwave Double IPA. I had heard something about the beer earlier on the beer forums and so far hadn’t seen any.

The beer was newly introduced early last year under the name Alchemy Hour Double IPA and it was a hit with the local crowd. They started selling it in stores and it caused Widmer Brothers Brewing to send a letter asking for them to change the name because “Alchemy Ale” was one of their flagship brews and they saw a conflict. This year Alchemy Hour became Chillwave highlighting the gonzo, die-hard Lake Erie winter surfers.

Lake Erie surfers Lake Erie surfer





The Great Lakes website Chillwave page has a .pdf file of this beer’s ingredients (thumbnail at right.) Three malts and three hops make up the primary additions. Of course, amounts and times and other brew process details are left out.

I’ll be looking for malt/hop balance, the hop bitterness flavors and quite possibly what it can be compared to.

Chillwave foamThe beer poured with a beautiful amber-orange color and was crystal clear. The carbonation was quite vigorous, happening all under the white creamy head. The aroma was quite distinctly hoppy and seemed to have an assortment of those smells.

The first sip yielded a nice medium body with some hints of sweetness at the front and the odd swallow with all its bitterness that needed to be sorted out. The hop profile was unique in that there seemed to be an assortment of flavors. Some citrus notes in there, but mostly earthy and a bit piney.

I’m only slightly disappointed that this wasn’t a single hopped beer. I wanted to drink a brew and compare it to my own homebrew. But I can’t say bad things about this beer. The main flavors carry a nice bit of sweetness owing to the honey malt used, but the hops carry the show.

The Mosaic hops are used in addition to Nugget and Cascade hops and my best guess is that the Nugget was used for the main bittering at the start of the boil due to its high alpha acid content. Cascade was used toward the end of the boil and then a last splash of Mosaic toward the end for aroma and a bit of flavor. The melding of Cascade and Mosaic was what I was tasting. Sort of mixing a tropical fruit with a citrus one such as apricot or grapefruit.

That earthiness sure surprised me. Maybe it was the Cascade bringing out that characteristic in the Mosaic hops but it was there and it wasn’t going away. The beer was nicely balanced with both the front and back of each sip not conflicting but rather complementing each other. The beer drinks a bit dry but that just adds to the mystique. I really can’t think of another IPA that this beer is similar to.

Weighing in at 9.4% alcohol tells one that this is a big beer. However it doesn’t drink like one. No alcohol was present in the taste and there was no heat in the stomach. The big thing with this beer is the hop bitterness. It’s unlike anything out there that I’ve tasted so far. I’m almost willing to bet that GL hit upon th e hop combination by accident.

Chillwave glass

Chillwave is seasonal brew in it’s second year of availability. People raved about it at its introduction in early 2013 and it’s back this year starting this month.

If you’re a hophead with a sense of adventure, pick up a 4-pack of chill wave and try to pick apart the hop flavors as you sip. It’s almost like a Rubik’s Cube in your mouth.

Chillwave labelThe SixPackTech summary for Great Lakes Double IPA:

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
Taste: Full flavored and sweet up front, a camping trip at the back.
Smoothness: It’s a sipper to be sure.
Drinkability: It’ll get you where you want to go in three bottle’s worth.
Bang for the buck: About par for what went into this beer.
Amount paid: $12.99 per 4-pack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Why yes, I think I shall.
ABV: 9.4%
Brewer’s website – age verif.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff – sip) Apricot. I can taste the apricot but it’s bitter. (sip) Yick. Yeah. it’s bitter. If it were a little sweeter maybe it wouldn’t be that bitter. (As Spock would say in disbelief, “Fascinating.”)

RateBeer rates.

Surfing Lake Erie [2:05]

Chill Wills with some model

Chill Wills with some model



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