8.5

Lake Effect Brewing Falcon Dive IPA review

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Lake Effect Brewing Falcon Dive IPA review

There are a few schools of thought, when it comes to opening a new brewery in a market that is starting to become craft beer saturated. In a city like Chicago, one option is to find yourself a niche. You can explore the world of traditional Belgian ales, ‘ala Une Annee, or fuse American influences like Haymarket. You can go brash, bold and balls to the wall in the spirit of Pipeworks. Or you can just attempt to do it all at once and hope your brews have enough unique qualities to stand out.

That last one appears to be the ethos at Lake Effect Brewing, which started distributing last year and is currently supplying small quantities of beer as far away as the package stores of the Chicago suburbs. Their overall lineup has no really discernable aesthetic, aside from a mild appreciation for German and Belgian beer styles. They’re making just about everything, from a smoked lager and Belgian IPA to a Mexican chile stout.

And of course, they make an IPA. This is craft beer, after all—you gotta make an IPA. And perhaps better than any other style, IPA is a useful measuring stick for a new brewery. With many craft beer fans drinking so many of them, and having become accustomed to the style, it’s easy to get a feel for what kind of experience a brewery wants you to have just by sampling their IPA. Based on Lake Effect’s Falcon Dive IPA, I’d expect something uniquely fruity from this brewery.

Can I first just say that I enjoy the cheesy label art, by the way? Got falcons? Check. Are said falcons in a dive bar? Also check. Awesomely silly label? That’s a big check.

The aroma immediately hits you with a very odd, complex array of notes—no surprise really, given that this beer utilizes the seven-hop “Falconers 7 C’s” blend of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Cluster, Columbus and Crystal. Pine is pronounced, with lots of fruit: Kiwi and strawberry are definitely in there.

Flavor-wise, it’s easy to think of tropical fruit punch or a bowl of Fruit Loops, with another hop note reminiscent of sweetened lime juice. There is some biscuity malt there as well and a bit of honeyed sweetness. Bitterness is on the lighter side for the style, which boosts drinkability.

This is a fairly nonstandard take on IPA that should stand out in a pleasant way from the pack surrounding it in a Chicago market that is just starting to feel crowded. It’s one of the less assertive India pale ales on the market, but its appreciably unique profile counts for a lot, considering its place of origin. If you’re a fan of lighter, fruitier IPA’s, it’s definitely one to check out.

Brewery: Lake Effect Brewing Co.
City: Chicago, Ill.
Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%
Availability: Year round, 22 oz. bottles