Wild Onion Brewing's Hop Slayer Double IPA

May 03 2011 - 8:30 AM

It's really hard to keep up with the craft beer explosion in Chicago.  I recently went over to the relatively new pub, Owen and Engine on Western Ave., to try something from one of their cask pours.  I was aware that they featured many American craft beers, and, of course, a number of beers from across the pond. I saw tap handles from Victory, Stone, and other major craft brewers.  What surprised me is that the most rewarding beer I came across was Wild Onion Brewing's Hop Slayer imperial IPA, a local brewery. 

Wild Onion is an outgrowth of the Onion Pub and Brewery in the far northwest suburb of Lake Barrington, Illinois.   Their website references around a dozen or so beers that are on tap at the pub.  Some of them are sold in cans.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Hop Slayer is considered a regular enough offering to be canned because good Midwest IPA's can be difficult to find, and I've never had an IPA from a can.  I'm not sure I've ever seen one in a can, perhaps Ska's Modus Hoperandi being somewhat of an exception. 

If the canned version of this is anything like what I tasted at Owen and Engine, I'm going to be stocking up on some aluminum.  I was served the Hop Slayer in a tulip glass.  The head was modest and off-white and the beer had a dark, rich, wooden amber color, almost like a cider.  Drinking this from a cask was kind of like receiving a massage, the mild temperature, the juicy hop bitterness, and the hints of pine and spice in the aroma made for a near-meditative experience.  I never detected the slightest imbalance in it. 

It carries a pretty high ABV of 8%, so it's not a summer all-afternoon accompaniment; but it far surpasses most IPA's I've tried from the Midwest, particularly Illinois. 

I also note that I had a Boulevard Brewing Tank 7, a beautiful French country ale with a pleasant orange peel flavor to it.  With a general buoyancy about it, Tank 7  made for a nice primer for the more robust Hop Slayer.

–Mark Sheppard