Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Codogno (LO)

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 7.0%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Considering it’s been a full year since Nigel last wrote a review for this fine website, I feel the best way to start my first review of 2016 is to recap my many adventures from 2015:

• My annual spring vacation involved 4 weeks in a hotel in Northwest Indiana, where it was cold and snowy and wasn’t a vacation at all because it was a required business trip in Northwest Indiana.

• I put on 15,000 miles exploring the vast Midwestern countryside. More specifically, exploring the same 160 miles a day on I-94 from Milwaukee to Madison commuting to work thanks to a job transfer.

• I watched a lot of TV shows about Alaska so I feel like I spent much of the year there. To reinforce that feeling, I use the shed in our backyard as an outhouse, I put antlers on our dog so she looks like a 45-pound, floppy-eared moose, and I turned our coat closet into a fish smoker. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Jewel and re-watched “Into the Wild” (spoiler alert: he still dies).

Beyond that, not much happened, which is why I’m looking forward to 2016 and once again contributing to one of the finest craft beer websites in the world (based on statistics for the year ending 2009). Some may say is dead, but they also said that about David Bowie, and look at him now.

What better way to kick off a new year than waiting until it’s seven weeks old and contributing to the 54th Annual International Beer Month. Considering what little content we delivered in 2015, the only sponsor we could find for IBM54 was the rabbit that poops all over my yard. Surprisingly, it’s a moderately wealthy rabbit that produces poop that is a delicacy for my beagle/moose mix, so we have enough funding to at least get us through the first week of March.

My first IBM selection is from Italy. Yes, Italy. When one thinks of world-class beverages, Italy often comes to mind. However, it’s likely fancy coffee and fine wine one thinks of, not beer. If one needs proof of the poor quality of Italian beer, I dare them to drink a Peroni without gagging.

The beer of choice is Brewfist Spaceman, a West Coast American IPA that in both name and style screams all things Italy. Plaster the ol’ Stars and Stripes across the bottle and picture a fat shirtless guy in denim shorts drinking it on the infield at Talladega. Viva l’Italia!

In all seriousness, Brewfist exemplifies just how much influence the American craft beer revolution has had across the globe. Looking at Brewfist’s website, this is every American craft brewery ever made save for the fact that they probably talk like Luigi from “The Simpsons.” Started by a couple of Italian craft beer aficionados in 2011 in a small town outside of Piacenza (south of Milan), Brewfist has quickly built an international reputation for brewing quality craft beer with significant American influences.

Spaceman IPA is the flagship brew from Brewfist, further cementing just how tied to the American craft beer scene this Italian brewery is. Perhaps the most talked about beer from Brewfist is Spaghetti Western, an Imperial Stout that’s a collaboration brew with acclaimed Oklahoma brewer Prairie Artisan Ales (Spaghetti Western … get it? Took me a minute …). Brewfist’s lineup includes plenty of big, bold beers like imperial porters, stouts, IPAs, etc., that emulate the styles that have defined the American craft beer scene the past two decades. This isn’t some generic European import brewery; it’s a modern, quality craft brewer based in the heart of Italian wine country.

Spaceman is a standard American IPA, a bit on the stronger side at 7 percent ABV. Brewed with Citra, Simcoe, and Columbus hops, really the only thing Italian about this beer is that the Columbus hop was a native Italian hop that grew under the Portuguese flag and “discovered” North American hops that had already been cultivated by Native Americans for centuries, then destroyed them by bringing in foreign diseases. But I digress.

Spaceman pours with a foamy head about an inch thick that slowly dissipates, leaving a lingering creamy lace on top throughout. A perfect golden brown hue, I’m concerned about the amount of sediment floating in the glass, even after the initial pour settles. While I expect an unfiltered ale, the amount of crap floating in the glass can often indicate a beer that’s been compromised. Considering there’s no “best buy” or “born on” date, as well as the fact that this somehow made it to Madison, Wisconsin from the middle of Italy, I’m concerned.

Aromas do little to ease my concerns. There are noticeable hints of what I’d expect for a stronger American IPA: some hop bitterness, some biscuity, light caramel malt, and some definite notes of citrus. However, I’m not getting the crisp, piney aroma I’d expect from Citra and Simcoe hops … it’s more bready and citrusy, with an unpleasant sour aroma thrown in. It doesn’t smell of an American IPA, though it also doesn’t smell compromised. I’m a little confused at this point.

The taste would seem to indicate that while this Spaceman isn’t skunked, it may not the freshest batch either. The hoppy bitterness is muted, which is a disappointment when you’re expecting a crisp, clean, piney, Italian-American IPA. Strong, earthy flavors of bready malt with some caramel sweetness come through more than expected. Citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit are also stronger than expected, though not uncommon for the style. There’s also a touch of astringent alcohol as well as that same faint sour note detected in the aroma. My concern is that sour note was once the crisp, hoppy profile that I was expecting given the style but was compromised thanks to improper transport and/or storage (exposure to temperature fluctuations or light). Regardless of the situation, there are some definite positive notes but too many concerns for me to rate this anything above average. Smooth on the tongue with the medium body one expects from an IPA, many of the elements of an AIPA are there, but it falls a little short of my expectations.

Considering that Italians have given so much to America, important things like “The Godfather” trilogy (they can have Sofia Coppola back …), Super Mario Bros., unlimited breadsticks at Olive Garden, and Arthur Fonzarelli, it seems only fair that we return the favor with our luscious hops in an IPA, a traditional British style famous for India. I’d like to try Spaceman again to see if I can hit a fresher bottle. I see some really promising notes that might jump this to a solid four-mugger, but with so many elements muted in my current bottle, I can only go so far as to give it a three. That having been said, Brewfist has certainly done a great job of putting Italy on the craft beer map (it still looks like a boot, but with a foamy head) and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on February 29, 2016.
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