#4 of Saturday's (8/28/10) River City Beer Festiv-ALE, and actually the one I'm critiquing in the picture in the Quad-City Times Article over the weekend (http://qctimes.com/news/local/article_74cd4a3e-b328-11df-b812-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=story)
Tasted again (3/2/12) on a Thursday evening. We had purchased an assorted 6-pack from the brewery (inclusive of Pilgrims Dole, Hopivore, Cabin Fever, Sun Dog, and Full Circle). Leading up to our visit, I had re-tried many of these at RIBCO, but now,finally have the bottles at hand to do up-to-date reviews. Updated finally at the pub on a Sunday afternoon going to week 3 working at New Holland.
Appearance: A deep amber color with absolute clarity. The head initially stands tall with a dense foam consistency. Dissipation is slow, but it sustains a webbed appearance along the sides of the glass with a soapy stature. The lacing is dry and resinous looking. Carbonation bubbles persistently rise from the etchings at the base of the glass.
Aroma: Hops slap you in the face. Extremely floral/grassy with a biscuity sweet caramel. Some sweet orange peel. I think Centennial. Absolutely delectable aroma. Strong fruitiness of pears and nectarines.
Taste: The start introduces a basic caramel flavor with undertones of biscuit and cereal grain flavors. The midtaste marks the beginning of a growing hop presence that climaxes in the end with a burst of a multi-dimensional hop complexity. Earthy overtones throughout with layers of orange rind, citrus and fresh hop flavors. The finish is primarily neutrally bitter, though some of that dry hop character can be drawn off the palate. A different take on the American IPA, but very well suited nonetheless. Aftertaste lingers in the back of the throat.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and with a nicely incorporated carbonation to help further that hop profile on the palate. Some tackiness present on the lips. The finish is very drying, yet crisp.
Overall Impression: To take it from me, it took some time getting used to. I started drinking beer from a sweetness and Hefe perspective and couldn't stand hops. Gradually I got into the C' based bale ales and then found the IPA's with Amarillo/Citra/Simcoe and was hooked. Mad hatter has a different personality, and one that I was unfamiliar with. Now, after some face time with the beer, I love it!