May 5 2009

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale Review

“We brewed this especially bitter ale in dedication to all the world’s would-be astronauts, in remembrance of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Massacre on the Brewery Party Grounds and also in joyous celebration of our 20-day suspension that following January. Do the crime. Do the time. Get the bragging rights. Cheers.” – Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale label

The story behind the Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale is well known, but it bears repeating. The brewery was holding regular tastings every Thursday night and some do-gooder had noticed someone smoking pot (not an unusual occurrence) outside the brewery. That led to the police to conduct an eight week undercover investigation into the brewery. Every week the undercover cops would come to the brewery tasting and try to buy pot. Plenty of people offered it to cops, but no one ever tried to sell it to them. Finally the police just got pissed off and on St. Patrick’s Day arrested a few people and shutdown Lagunitas for 20 days.

In an act of wonderful subtly, Lagunitas later released their Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale. It is a whopping 9.7% ABV and, despite being a borderline barleywine, the brewery calls it an “oxymoronic imperial mild”

This beer pours a golden orange with deep pools of reddening copper. The head is thin, but laces nicely as you drink.

(Imagine I put a picture of the beer here. Go ahead, close your eyes and “see” the bottle….. No, that isn’t what the label looks like at all. Are you even trying? Nevermind. Yeah, well anyway, I must of gotten drunk and forgotten to take a picture of this one.)

The aroma is candy sugar, caramel malt, and traces of citrus and pine hops.

The taste is drier than the sweetness of the aroma would suggest. There’s brown sugar and some alcohol, but no where near the 9.7% that it is. The body is full and deeply coating.

The bizarre thing I got out of this one was a fruity sweetness. It took me a little while to put my finger on it, but it got a big, red Twizzler note. It was a sweet, cherry splash on my tongue that made me want to find some Twizzlers and use them as straws for this strong ale. Well, I guess we have our food pairing for this one.

This was a very interesting beer and well capable of carrying the memory of that St. Patrick’s Day massacre. It was deceptively smooth, and complex. Not something you want to drink all night long, but something you’ll be happy that you had.

If you aren’t holding, of course.