Peak Organic King Crimson, maybe

I trust everyone had a fun and safe new year’s celebration. I know I did!

A funny thing about this review—until I researched the brew styles of Peak Organic Brewing Co., I thought I was drinking the Maple Oat Ale. That’s what Whole Foods listed on the beer board, and that’s what I ordered. I received my 32 oz. growler, all along assuming that I had what was described on the Peak Organic website as “round” and “soft,” with a “subtle richness.”

The beer that I drank was sharp and crisp and “subtle” was not a word I would have used to describe it. Here’s the tricky part—the beer was red. And the Maple Oat Ale was described on the site as “copper-colored,” which would fit. But what I was drinking was bitter, IPA bitter, and the Maple Oat Ale is rated at 26 IBUs. I was not drinking a 26 IBU beer. There was just no way this was the Maple Oat Ale.

So, friends, here we have a bit of a mystery. I was drinking a highly bitter, red ale, with citrusy notes. This was highly hopped, but it wasn’t what I would consider an IPA. It had a lot more balance to the body, reminding me of nuts with the skins on. There was a nice malty aroma, and it smelled a bit like wine, which I attribute to a higher alcohol content. Lest anyone think that I was turned off by the bitterness—and it was highly bitter—the reason that it worked in this beer, compared to many IPAs, is that it had that a crisp, clean malty flavor that separated this from pale ales. (I had an “Indian Brown Ale” at a Christmas party, that also had this quality of balance. Why drink bitter pale ales that bring nothing else to the palate?) So what the heck was I drinking?

It’s possible that the good folks at Whole Foods had a keg of Peak Organic ready, but mislabeled their beer board. If it was, in fact, a Peak Organic, then I had to have been lucky enough to try King Crimson, which has nearly 10% alcohol—two pints of my mystery brew had me talking a bit too loudly—and is dry-hopped, which is surely similar to what I was drinking.

King Crimson, an awesome name for a beer, is only offered in the winter and is a very limited release. I may not be able to try a known-quantity of it before it’s gone, but I’m positive what I had was not Maple Oat Ale. If it was King Crimson, it’s a really good bitter beer, which I would seek out again. Of course, I may never know. Between this and the Leaf Pile Incident, I may not be able to use Whole Foods as a resource for my, um, research.