Craft Beer Week At The Norse Bar: Avery DuganA Imperial IPA

May 28 2012 - 8:30 AM

Chicago Craft Beer Week 2012 has treated me quite well as I’ve gotten to try some stunning offerings from local and out-of-town brewers. There have been quite a few high points, and I hope to touch upon some of them in this blog in the coming days.  Surely, one of the week’s highlights was having Avery DuganA IPA on tap at The Norse Bar in Edgewater.  Norse, a quiet tap room behind a modest storefront in the 6300 block on Clark Street, has become one of Chicago’s hidden craft brew gems.  They consistently offer terrific beers on tap, often pour unusual ones, and maintain clean lines.  Naturally, when I found out that Norse was hosting Avery Week featuring the top tier Boulder, Colorado brewer, I knew that my CBW travels would take me to the outer reaches of Edgewater at least once.  I’m a huge Avery fan and find their beer roster to range from good and solid to spectacular.

I finally made it to Norse on Saturday to find their DuganA keg in its prime. I’d had the beer before and was already a fan, having last tried it at the Long Room several years ago. I recalled it as a high quality double IPA of the “earthy/piney” variety as oppposed to the “tropical” West Coast style.  Well, either my palate was way off base before or they changed the hop mix in this one because DuganA is all West Coast now and absolutely devastating.  First off, Norse chose well in the glassware, presenting it in a tall, rather fluted stemmed glass, a nod to this beer’s special status.  This style of glass really stretched it out, elegantly presenting the beer’s thick, foamy white head and delectable pale orange opaque body.  Tropical notes resplendently burst from the nose, matched equally by what Josh described as powdered sugary malt odors.  I’ll buy that.  The sugary malt dimension gave the nose a tantalizing texture.

Hops and citrus flavors dominate the body.  Perhaps on the slightly sweeter end of the double IPA spectrum – but not at all sweet  – tangerines, oranges, orange peel, and mango envelop the palate.  Hop bitterness roars in the back of the tongue but stays contained by those always lurking sugary malts that never quite reach the forefront.  It has a pleasantly juicy mouthfeel on the lighter end of moderate with modest carbonation adding a nice bite to each sip.  This is a spectacular beer and one of the best DIPA’s on the market. I need to engage a bottle of this to determine if it comes close to matching this particular tapping.

Yet the real star of the show might have been The Norse Bar itself.  It’s a pleasant place to go have a drink.  I’ve never found it that crowded, the crowd is easygoing, the bartenders friendly and no-fuss, and you can always get a seat at the bar.  Afternoons are a great time to visit.  They pull back the windows to make it open-air with several window-side tables.  Plenty of light gets in, casting a soft white glow on the bar and your beer glass.  The music’s pretty good and not too loud.  And as I said, they have great beers.  Other Avery Week offerings included the 18th and 19th Anniversary Ales which were terrific.  The 18th had a well-balanced barleywine flavor with a bit of orange and sinewy thickness to it.  The 19th was a lighter golden ale.  Hardly a better place to enjoy some beers.

The Norse Bar
6334 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL

–M. Sheppard