Tasting: March 21, 2014
Style: Imperial IPA
Beer #: 524
And here we have another installment in the all too familiar trademark tango. Our dance partners are Great Lakes Brewing of Cleveland and the Craft Beer Alliance (CBA) of Portland, Oregon. Sidebar – the Craft Beer Alliance is an amalgamation of Widmer Brothers and Red Hook. Anheuser Busch (ABinBEV) is a substantial minority stakeholder in CBA.
Great Lakes had sold this seasonal offering under the name Alchemy Hour. Apparently the name is a surfing term referring to the hours of making surfing magic. Unfortunately for Great Lakes, CBA thought that the name was too close to Widmer Brothers Alchemy Ale. The two parties were to settle the dispute amicably and unlike some other dispute settlements this one didn’t seem to include any ransom payments – at least none were disclosed. As a result, Alchemy Hour became Chillwave – another surfing homage. This time a tribute to the hearty souls that brave the cold and stormy weather of the Great Lakes for a perfect wave.
Chillwave has an amazing and complex hop profile right out the gate with tangerine, pepper and lemongrass. All balanced by a very stable malt backbone of caramel, honey and mango. Chillwave has a healthy bitterness but reins itself in nicely and it doesn’t outstep the sweet malt bill. Mouthfeel is rich and sticky – downright chewy – no carbonation. The 9.4% alcohol by volume is wonderfully subdued under the potent hop and malt flavors.
In trademark infringement, one of the stress test questions is whether the two brands would present consumer confusion. If you put the two bottles side by side I can’t say you would make that mistake. Taste the two beers and there would probably be no mistaking the difference. Chillwave is a world class double IPA and worthy of 93 points from me.