Beer UP is an attempt to examine as many of the fine craft brews across the country as possible. Following the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, the rubric has five* simple categories: appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and overall experience. With the help of you, dear reader, we’ll create a discussion about what makes a good beer, why that’s important, and what it all means, man. (*Note: As a commenter suggested last week, we’ve adjusted our rubric and added the category “Taste,” as it’s not the same as “Mouthfeel.”)
This week: Domaine DuPage, a French-style Ale from Two Brothers Brewing Company out of Warrenville, Illinois, found in a pint glass at Beloved for $6. (I know, I know, that’s the same bar as last week — but we’ll just chalk my laziness up as a way to establish a controlled variable. Science!)
Appearance: The Domaine DuPage is just a damn beautiful beer — like, if this beer were an article of clothing, you’d for sure sport it on a first date. The deep, orange tone lights up in a reddish fashion in a dimly lit bar, doing its best to imitate the color scheme of a sunset. Strangely, as the bartender warned me, there was hardly any head after he poured it. But as someone who embarrassingly ends up with foam on his nose on a regular basis while drinking drafts, this excited me.
Aroma: The brew’s little carbonation no doubt contributes to the reserved scent, because it didn’t give off that pungent of a smell. But it does indicate a clean, somewhat malty experience. Even my girlfriend and her friend noted that its aroma was “quite lovely.”
Taste: I can’t say that the DuPage tastes like anything specific. There’s a little fruitiness, yes, as it carries some of the tartness you might find in an apple. But it blended extremely well with the hops. It was not a sweet beer, but the flavor also didn’t bite.
Mouthfeel: It feels a little strange to describe a beer as aggressive, but that’s what I experienced after a few swallows. The lack of carbonation might come across, at first, like the beer is flat. But in the end, that’s what makes it so compelling. The DuPage felt thick–I wrote “meaty” in my notes, but that seems extreme in hindsight; pudgy might be more accurate–and it coated my mouth in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. It was an enticing sensation, to be honest, and a bit like that scene in Super Troopers where the officers chug bottles of maple syrup.
Overall Experience: I asked the bartender at Beloved–whose name was Bizz–to recommend their “oddest brew,” and this was what he, cautiously, gave me. He told me that he was not a fan of it at all, but patrons usually split their opinions: Some absolutely love it; others loathe it. Me? I was quite a fan and would go on to have another (and another, and another). After some initial hesitation, I especially enjoyed the lack of carbonation, as it made the whole drinking experience smoother. If you’re not a beer person, this might not be the right choice. But if you’re willing to step out and try something that’s genuinely a new experience, I whole-heartedly recommend you give the Two Brothers Domaine DuPage a shot.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 25, 2012