Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
Christmas is a time for giving, so my friends who live just outside of Tampa sent me a little beer care package from one of their favorite breweries, Corporate Ladder Brewing Company. It was two limited releases they’d been sitting on for several months now, thanks in part to COVID-19, and both efforts featured a very cool pop culture reference from two horror films I really enjoy. My friends were eager to share these beers because Corporate Ladder is their local spot and it continues to make a name for itself around Florida and now much of the nation. Since there’s no bad time for an Alien-themed Berliner Weisse, I figured now was a perfect time to crack open Corporate Ladder’s Xenomorph Blood.
Situated about a half hour south of Tampa in Palmetto, Corporate Ladder was founded by Blake Kleppe in 2018 and immediately began to make waves in south Florida but it was two silver medals at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival that helped the brewery grab the country’s attention. Corporate Ladder won for Cherry Almond Cookie in the Field Beer category and Contains Chocolate in the Chocolate Beer category and just like that it started to become a destination for beer connoisseurs. The focus of Kleppe, who spent almost 10 years as an obsessed homebrewer before opening the brewery, is to bring world-class beer to the area – and experimenting with rotating releases is part of the allure. There’s seems to be a nice mix of offerings, it’s not just another spot with 12 hazy IPAs and only one stout.
And there’s no beer style that Corporate Ladder won’t attempt, from behemoth imperial stouts to hopped-up DIPAs, though it’s the fruit-based beers that seem to be the cornerstone, bringing people back for more. Looking more like slushies than beer on some occasions, Corporate Ladder often features a variety of vibrantly colorful sour offerings – like the neon green look of Xenomporph Blood. Inspired by the 1979 Ridley Scott film Alien, this effort might look like Alien acid but thankfully it’s just a sour.
For as cool as Xenomporph Blood looks in the photos, the label might actually be cooler. It has the head of the infamous film creature and the name of the beer below it. Corporate Ladder’s logo is in the upper corner and the style of beer is listed right underneath it, while next to it is a little explanation of what’s inside as well as the alcohol by volume, which is a whopping 8.5 percent – pretty high for this particular style. No hop profile is listed but they get some bonus points for a creative summary:
Inspired by a timeless classic, we took real xenomorph blood and blended it with mango, pineapple, peach, pear, apricot and honey, resulting in a green liquid that will literally jump out at you, attach itself to your face and egg inside your chest. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine… we think. Just remember, in space, no one can hear you scream.
I’m an absolute sucker for any brewery that mixes in pop culture references, so I was eager to crack this one open – and rather than go straight for the nose, I immediately went for the pour because, let’s be honest, it’s the selling point of Xenomorph Blood. It poured a vibrant green, looking a lot more like a smoothie your health-conscious friend might make than a sour beer. There was absolutely no head to this one, which might be because it was canned in October. I expected just a little head and some carbonation, typical for the style, so not sure if it’s me or the beer. Either way, it’s the perfect Instagram beer – one sure to make your friends jealous.
As for the aroma, it was all fruit, smelling almost like one of those fruit cocktail cups. The two fruits that stood out to me the most on the nose were pear and mango, I noticed both immediately. I feel like the taste coincided with the nose well, though I noticed the pear far more than any of the other flavors, with a little bit of mango and maybe just a hint of apricot in there. I didn’t get any honey but that doesn’t surprise me. I’m sure a Master Cicerone could point it out but I’m not that much of a nerd.
I liked the flavor and thought it was expertly crafted, though abundantly sweet – fruity beers aren’t necessarily my thing. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and there was low carbonation and a really nice smoothness to it. It went down easy. And the drinkability was there, as you could easily polish off a couple, if you’re into sweeter offerings. When I finished it, I made sure to do my best Bill Paxton impression and yell, “Game over, man!” If you are confused, go watch the 1986 sequel Aliens.
When I went on to BeerAdvocate, there was hardly anything about it, just one rating, so I decided that wasn’t really enough of a sample size to include with this review. While I know this can of Xenomorph Blood wasn’t opened on the weekend of the release, it didn’t miss a beat and held up well. It’s fun, fruity, well-brewed and just something a little out of the box from the usual offerings. I would give it an 8.5 out of 10. It’s clear why Corporate Ladder is turning heads and becoming known for its sours. Having said that, I’d love to get my hands on a stout or abundantly fresh, hop-heavy DIPA. Until then, I’ll just drink the other sour, RedRum, because all work and no play makes Ed a dull boy.
Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.