A number of factors came together over Friday-Saturday that, for me, were very serendipitous (lucky.) Friday night our homebrew club met and during the course of the evening, one member brought two different beers from the same brewery to pass and sample. The beers held a special meaning for me in the fact that I heard about perhaps over a five-year period while listening to podcasts on my commute to and from work. The beers came from Heretic Brewing in Fairfield, CA. Evil Twin and Evil Cousin were the beers I had coveted for those years.
The podcasts helped me hone my personal homebrewing style and taught me quite a lot about brewing beer and also, later, what it takes to open one’s own brewery from scratch. The podcasts were Brew Strong, Brewing With Style, Can You Brew It? and The Jamil Show.
Jamil started brewing in 1999 and soon started winning awards in homebrew competitions. He has brewed beers in every style recognized by the Beer Judge Certification Program, taken medals in the finals of the National Homebrew Competition every year since 2002 and amassed more than 20 Best-of-Show awards. He contributes articles to Zymurgy and is the Style Profile columnist for Brew Your Own.
In the homebrewing circle, Jamil is everywhere. Jamil finally opened his own brewery in 2010, Heretic Brewing Co. and featured many of his award winning beers.
During those commutes, I not only gathered new insights into brewing beer but also got a good idea of what it was like for a homebrewer to go “pro.” Jamil spoke during many episodes on all of the details that are involved in getting started brewing beer professionally, getting a building, licensing, kettles and vessels, packaging and staying on top of it all.
At the homebrew club meeting Friday, I had about two ounces each of Evil Twin and Evil Cousin. The taste of the beers was impressive. I had to get some in quantity for myself. I discovered that the Illinois Binny’s stores were starting to carry it. I planned a trip to Binny shop in Plainfield on Saturday.
Forecasters were predicting a significant snowfall starting Saturday afternoon and continuing into the evening totaling about 3”. It was 1 p.m. when I convinced myself that this beer was worth venturing out on a round trip of about 2 hours. All in the name of beer. This Heretic beer.
The trip to the store was uneventful and as I entered I was greeted by a staff member offering help. I told him what I was after and he led me down towards the back shelves and held out two sixpacks of cans. There they were: Evil Twin and Evil Cousin. I’ll have some Evil Twin tonight and then dip into Evil Cousin next weekend.
It started to snow on the way home but it really was nothing to worry about. Two hours later, however, it was really coming down.
I stashed the Evil Twins in the fridge where they sat until it got thirsty out. Now let’s drink some professionally made homebrew.
The beer poured with what looked like a brown color, similar to Pepsi. It brought up a huge, off-white, rather thick head. Looking under the light, the beer was a nice, clear red color. Micro-bubbles emanated from the nucleation spot at the bottom of the glass. The aroma was slight with wisps of malts and a tad bit of hops.
The first sip was damn good. I was surprised at the rather bold maltiness of the beer. The hops were there in the back but they blended in so well as to be barely noticeable. A nice medium mouthfeel put the final punctuation on the arrangement.
It would be difficult for some beer drinkers to name the style of this beer. It has characteristic tastes of a pale ale, but it isn’t pale. It’s a not so pale ale. A dark pale ale. Hell, it ain’t pale at all. The label on the can calls it a Red India Pale Ale. That best describes the style in spite of what all the beer experts or the government says. Styles be damned.
With Evil Twin, the hops are pulled back a bit and the malts carry the weight, all without being overbearing. It’s a nicely balanced beer and given everything that this beer has going, it would be perfect as an after work, thirst quenching, go-to beer. If you’d like a nice diversion from Sierra’s Pale Ale or Two Hearted, try Evil Twin. It would be as if your taste buds were finally able to sit down, relax and enjoy the view.
From my point of view, Heretic and Evil Twin were entities that I only heard about and listened to being described in podcasts over a number of years. Now, finally, those beers that I only imagined, have made their ways to Flatland, USA and onto my taste buds.
Style: India Pale Ale also look here.
Taste: Malts and hops in unison. Delicious.
Drinkability: The sips will fly down your throat.
Bang for the buck: On a par with others of the same style.
Amount paid: $9.99 for a sixer of 12-ounce cans.
Get it again? Yes, absolutely.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s dark. It’s reddish. (sniff) Smells like something went bad. (sip) Ooh, it’s like bad cherries. (sip) Eww, no! (There’s something wrong with her. I’ll have to get her tasters adjusted.)
If you have 20 minutes, watch this video about Heretic Brewing [20:48]