Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

King IPA

King Brewing Company
Pontiac, MI

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Not good.)

(WARNING: the following review contains strange and horrifying—yet true—stories of a beer that was brewed by Beelzebub himself. Young children, people with heart conditions, and Republicans should proceed with caution, or perhaps just hit the back button and avoid this altogether.)

Halloween is upon us and it’s time to get a little spooky here at (Nigel actually prefers Dia de los Muertos, which he celebrates with a glow-in-the-dark growler of Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale). I was hoping to share a scary story with all of you loyal readers out there and had been trying desperately to come up with something creative before my Halloween review. Alas, thanks to the new King Brewing Company in Pontiac, Michigan (home of the Silverdome and, uh … Pontiacs?), Nigel’s Halloween horror story has written itself. The following tale is unfortunately all too true, and Nigel can prove it as the priest is still here trying to exorcise the remaining demons from my beer fridge.

It all began two weeks ago, when Nigel returned from a weekend at the family estate in the deep, dark, remote (and possibly haunted) Northwoods of Wisconsin. This was a special trip for two reasons: Nigel was finally able to take his Danish Princess to the estate for a relaxing weekend, and, more importantly (let’s hope she doesn’t read this), Nigel picked up his beer fridge. Nigel had been in his new place for six weeks and was still sans beer fridge, so this last part was particularly vital since Nigel’s roommate likes to take things without asking and was going to loose a limb if he touched my craft brew selection again. The beer fridge was old, but on the surface appeared in good shape. However, after having been housed in our abandoned, 65 year old guest cabin (complete with a creepy 1940s outhouse) and having been dormant for a number of years, the inside of the fridge had that sulfuric odor that permeates in the fiery depths of hell. No amount of Arm & Hammer could get rid of the foul stench of death (OK, it’s just a little musty, but work with me here) held within my beer fridge, though the fabulous selection of nearly 40 craft brews would normally be enough to overlook this negative detail.

That was until a couple of days ago. On a recent shopping spree at my favorite good beer retailer, Nigel discovered a new brewery based in Michigan offering an IPA, a Mocha Java Stout, and a Porter. King Brewing didn’t appear to have much to offer at first glance, though it’s what’s inside the bottle that’s important, not the packaging. Sir Nigel bravely picked up a six pack, not realizing that it would soon turn into a horrific ordeal that he would never forget. For, housed inside those six seemingly innocent bottles, complete with a picture of the Taj Mahal, elephants, and the words “King IPA” written in large letters (“Prince” would be more appropriate, as in “Prince of Darkness”), was pure, unadulterated evil.

October 21st began as a typical autumn evening in the bustling metropolis of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. High atop Convent Hill, overlooking the old Blatz and abandoned Pabst breweries and collapsed Pfister Voegel Tannery, as well as a convalescent home housed in part of the old convent, Nigel sat peacefully, waiting to try his King IPA. Forebodingly, he first enjoyed a Devil Dancer on an evening which he was planning to spend quietly reading the Sunday paper, watching game 7 of the ALCS, and sipping a few brews. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the wind began to howl. The temperature, which had reached the mid 70s in the afternoon, began to plummet. A cold rain began to fall, and low clouds loomed ominously over the glistening lights of the Milwaukee skyline, looking as though the legions of Satan were about to swoop down and engulf the entire city. Nigel didn’t realize it at the time, but he had just put his King IPA in the beer fridge to chill, thus exposing many bottles of quality beer to the demonically possessed, and allowing the foul stench held within the fridge the necessary ingredient to explode.

Had he recognized the warning signs, Nigel would have quickly taken his six pack of King IPA to the shores of the wonderfully polluted Milwaukee River and dumped them, thus completing the circle of life. Nigel did not heed these warnings, however, and proceeded. Upon the pop of the first bottlecap, his fate was sealed: Nigel and his beer fridge would never be the same. Before Nigel could even get the bottle to the glass, the fetid reek of a beer that was not from this earth filled the apartment, and the demons held within for thousands of years came rushing out of the bottleneck. While trying to pour, Nigel witnessed a vile brew was so overloaded with the Devil’s minions that it created a wretched foam that took—literally—30 minutes to empty a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Screams were heard as far away as Chicago as the lightning crashed, the thunder rolled, and unabashed terror ensued. The image of Dick Cheney could be seen among the storm clouds, chuckling away with glee. Local authorities were unable to control the horror, forcing the Department of Homeland Security, the National Guard, and the three living Ghostbusters to be quickly summoned for help.

After Nigel’s beer settled, he took his first sip (as an Englishman, I never learn). Nigel screamed in agony and began to wretch, his body convulsing uncontrollably. His face began to melt after tasting what is surely the water of the River Hades, and his stomach exploded as the evil spirits of yesteryear came gushing out, hoping to again wreak havoc upon the world. Surely, this was it for Nigel …

Alas, Nigel was saved at the last minute by a quick-thinking paramedic who poured a Kentucky Breakfast Stout down his palate, thus sealing the wound and returning his face to normal (not that it’s much of an improvement). The remaining five bottles of King IPA, as well as the rest of the already-poured glass, were seized by Navy SEALS after a long firefight and sent to Los Alamos, where they were destroyed in a tactical nuclear blast. Nigel’s apartment suffered minimal damage, though the people of Milwaukee will be emotionally scarred for life. As for the beer fridge? Well, thanks to the efforts of Bells, Founders, New Glarus, Capital, Lakefront, Sierra Nevada, Dark Horse, Three Floyds, Tyranena, Flying Dog, and Surly, all of which are all still housed within, as well as a highly-trained team of priests sent by Pope Benedict himself, it’s recovering. This will be a slow process, but I’m hopeful that someday soon I’ll be able to sample the sweet nectar held within and try to put this whole ordeal behind me.

Listen to Sir Nigel as he gives you this dire warning: avoid King IPA at all costs. As a beer, regardless of style, it’s not good. As an IPA, it’s absolutely awful. I’ve never seen a beer of any style—not even those import Irish Stouts or English Pub Ales with the little CO² rocket in them—pour with this much foam. It was 30 minutes before I could drink this after the first pour, which I had to make in four-step increments to prevent a huge, foamy mess. I’m not sure if I got a bad batch that was somehow shipped improperly or bottled incorrectly, but this was completely ridiculous and unacceptable. As for the taste, it’s not an IPA of any sorts, much less an American IPA as King claims it to be. It supposedly uses American hops, but I can hardly taste any hoppiness at all, much less be able to identify what style they are. More malty and earthy than hoppy, this is all around a bad flavor. Too fruity for an IPA and far, FAR too chemically for any style, King IPA is easily one of the worst, if not THE worst IPA I’ve ever had. Try to avoid this awful brew, and hopefully you’ll prevent a repeat of Nigel’s Night of the Demonic Beer.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on October 28, 2007.
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