Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Really Cool Waterslides

3 Sheeps
Sheboygan, WI

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 6.2%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

As a lifelong resident of the Badger State, I know the following facts about Sheboygan, WI:

  • It is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, about an hour north of Milwaukee.
  • It is surrounded by some of the finest golf courses in the United States, including Blackwolf Run, The Bull, and Whistling Straits, the latter of which has hosted two PGA Championships and is soon to host a Ryder Cup.
  • Wigwam socks are made in Sheboygan. Who doesn’t love socks?
  • Kohler Co. is the preeminent maker of toilets and bathroom accessories in the country. Kohler Co. is based in the nearby Village of Kohler, which makes Kohler, Wisconsin the only town in the country named after something you poop in.
  • Sheboygan hosts some world-class events, such as Brat Days, an annual celebration of all things sausage and the “Ice Bowling Classic,” which involves, you guessed it … bowling. On ice. Both events are marked by copious quantities of local folk overindulging in such high end ales as Miller High Life, Bud Light, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
  • 90 percent of news stories in Wisconsin that involve drunken rednecks doing something so incredibly stupid that it’s humorous originate in Sheboygan. I have verified that percentage with exhaustive research and numerous cries of “no fucking way … NO FUCKING WAY THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED!”

With that in mind, let’s head to Sheboygan and check out one of Wisconsin’s newest craft breweries, 3 Sheeps. Yes, 3 Sheeps. You can’t make this stuff up. Better yet? My selection is the flagship brew from 3 Sheeps, an IPA called Really Cool Waterslides. If you’re planning on walking into a pub and telling the barkeep you’d like a 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides, you’d best be in Sheboygan. Otherwise, anticipate getting some very strange looks before you are thrown out.

Given the unusual name of both brewery and beer, I did some research into 3 Sheeps. Founder Grant Pauly has some impressive ties to brewing history in his genes, as his family took over Kingsbury Breweries during the height of Prohibition. For those unfamiliar with beer history, Kingsbury was one of the few breweries to survive Prohibition, and in 1933 began an impressive run of expansion that would see it sold across the country. Kingsbury quickly faded in the early 1970s and went through a series of ownership changes, but clearly Pauly has brewing in his blood. His love of brewing led him to give up the current family business, a successful concrete operation, and begin 3 Sheeps. Great story, but I’m still unsure as to why the grammatically incorrect “3 Sheeps” name was settled upon.

3 Sheeps has been operating for less than two years, and only began bottling a few months ago. At this time, there are four offerings: Baaad Boy Black Wheat, Rebel Kent I Amber Ale, Cirque du Wit, and Really Cool Waterslides IPA. Really Cool Waterslides is symbolic of Pauly’s decision to forego the safety and security of the known and chase his dream of beginning a brewery, or running towards the “really cool waterslides.” A nice bit of symbolism explains the seemingly odd choice of a name.

Really Cool Waterslides pours with a mild creamy head about a half inch deep that slowly dissipates, leaving some nice lacing on the top throughout and residue on the side of the glass. A gorgeous golden brown color with only a slight bit of haze occasionally penetrated by some bubbly carbonation, it’s a very appealing brew at first sight.

I love the aroma on this. There is a unique mix of sweet sugars and tropical fruit that pair nicely with the standard hop aromas. It’s not an aroma that will pummel your nostrils, but it’s still relatively powerful for the style. The sweetness appears to be derived from a strong earthy backbone that not only adds touches of grain, but gives a sweet, sugary dimension with noticeable scents of caramel and honey. Hops are front and center as well, but the balance doesn’t allow them to completely take over. Nonetheless, there is a noticeable bite at times of piney, resinous hops. The effervescent fruity notes are a nice addition, a distant player in the overall aroma but one that adds a nice finishing touch.

The flavor proves that the favorable initial impressions of Really Cool Waterslides are no fluke. This is a damn good IPA … honestly, it’s one of the best new Midwestern IPAs I’ve had in quite some time. Listed at 60 IBUs, surprisingly it’s the same sugary sweetness that helped make the aroma so pleasant that is at the forefront of the flavor. Huge notes of creamy caramel and a touch of molasses coat the tongue right off the bat. Given that initial flavor, when the hops make their presence known—as they soon do—it’s not a tongue-numbing bitterness that can sometimes plague an IPA. Rather, there are subtle, yet noticeable notes of pine and occasional hints of bitterness that remind you that you are in fact drinking an IPA, but don’t beat you into submission. Other flavors are present as well, including some hints of lemon and grapefruit, and some earthy, grainy notes. For a standard American IPA, Really Cool Waterslides has a lot going on. There are enough flavors to make the overall profile complex, yet it’s still very approachable. It’s an IPA that can please the biggest hophead out there, but also be enjoyed by a wide variety of craft beer drinkers.

Wow … I’m really impressed with this one. 3 Sheeps may have a strange name, but for a brewery in its infancy, they hit one out of the ballpark with their flagship IPA. Really Cool Waterslides is incredibly complex in terms of flavor and aroma, yet it’s not overpowering (ABV is modest at 6.2 percent) and is approachable for a variety of craft beer drinkers. In the past I would likely have given this a flawless five mug rating, but Nigel is more selective in his old age, so I’m going with a solid four mug score. Really Cool Waterslides is a truly outstanding first effort by 3 Sheeps and finally gives Sheboygan something to be proud of that doesn’t involve sausages or bowling on ice.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on May 15, 2013.
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