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.
After tasting something from the left coast last week, I thought it was time for something a little closer to home. And as I roamed aimlessly throughout the beer store, I finally came to a decision on something I was not aware of, from a brewery I had only heard in passing. It’s always risky when trying something new, sometimes it’s great and other times it falls flat on its face. In the end, I chose Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ Wavvy Dry-Hopped Double IPA. Let’s see if it’s any good.
Founded back in 2010 by Baltimore native Brian Strumke, an internationally renowned DJ and producer, Stillwater quickly gained recognition. In just its second year, the brewery earned the No. 2 spot on Rate Beer’s “Best New Brewers In The World.” Today, it’s available in 40 states and several countries, though Strumke’s company brews in a very unique way. Stillwater is a gypsy brewery, one of the first in fact, meaning it creates beer under a contract, so it doesn’t own its own equipment or facility. The focus is on producing creative, almost art projects, that blend the beer with their labels, allowing Strumke to tap into the tools he often used during his music career.
There’s some real funky stuff being produced by Stillwater and I might have to get my hands on more of it down the road. Who wouldn’t want to try a beer inspired by AMSR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), or a canned beer you need to shake before opening? I actually feel like I found one of the more tame efforts in Stillwater’s arsenal.
Wavvy is an 8 percent alcohol by volume DIPA that is brewed with Centennial, Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria hops and, other than that, I could find little to explanation of this beer. The label features a mesmerizing green and yellow design, like something out of the 1970s, though it really offers little insight as to what you’re about to drink. It does say to check the bottom to see what batch it might be, as the hop selection varies per batch – I have Batch 10. Stillwater suggests that drinkers collect them all.
Immediately upon opening, I get a whiff of the hops, which included some bitterness and a faint fruit-like smell – really what you would kind of expect from a dry-hopped DIPA. It poured well for a medium-bodied beer, golden in color with a slight haze to it and a small white head. Wavvy is a complex beer, simply because these three hops aren’t put together often. The taste reflects that. First and foremost, I noticed the hoppiness, which made way for a hint of melon or perhaps lemon-like flavor, it was difficult to tell, followed by a tasty bitterness on the back-end. I didn’t know what to expect from this beer and I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t in love either. There was a level of drinkability to it but I also feel like I have had way better dry-hopped DIPAs in the past. I wanted something more – more bitterness, I suppose. I cannot seem to put my finger on it.
This might just go back to what I’ve said before, my palate might be spoiled with these high-end IPAs and DIPAs that are unfiltered, juicy or hazy and that might make drinking a beer like these feel like taking a step backwards. It likely would’ve gotten a higher rating from me four years ago. Having said that, I give Wavvy an even 7 out of 10, which really isn’t too far off from its current average score on BeerAdvocate, which is 3.55. A four-pack of 16-ounce pounders was just under $15, which is reasonable. It’s definitely a beer I would drink again, but maybe more during the spring months.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.