Class in a Glass : Mispillion River’s Holy Crap! Imperial Red Ale

Mispillion River opened in 2013 after Eric Williams declared to his wife Megan that he was going to open a craft brewery in Milford, Delaware. Alright, so he actually made that declaration two years earlier, and then spent the time leading up to Mispillion River’s opening doing everything he could to open a brewery that as their mission statement reads was, “recognized by its customers and the brewing industry for producing the highest quality craft beer.

Teaming up with Don and Marti Brooks, and Scott and Tammy Perlot, the Williamses brought in Jared Barnes to brew the initial batches with assistant Ryan Maloney who took over as head brewer about a year after opening.

Sadly, Tracey and I have yet to make it down to the brewery, but we’ve enjoyed their beers on several occasions at festivals and bars, continually finding these guys to be top notch. So the other day when I saw that one of my new favorite liquor stores (The Newark Bottle Shop) was carrying Mispillion’s Holy Crap! Imperial Red I figured this was a good a chance to finally review one of their beers.

Now I try not to go into any review with any bias (especially negative) but I have to admit that this beer and I got off on a wrong foot when I reached into the cooler and only pulled out four beers. That’s right, Holy Crap! comes in four packs, and you know to us, that’s just…..well you know…*

Let’s taste.

THEM: Holy Crap! is built off of a grain bill of 2-Row, caramel, biscuit and Munich malts while Amarillo hops do all the heavy lifting in the beer to the tune of 50IBUs. The kick tops off at 9.0ABV and according to the brewery it pairs well with spiced Brontosaurus. Fred Flintstone approved I’m sure.

Well…I guess so…(Copyrights: Hanna Barbara/Mispillion River, Photoshop: The Dogs of Beer)

ME: Holy Crap pours a deep mahogany with a nice white head. The nose has gobs of specialty grain and bready malts with a nice balance of citrus and spice you’d expect from Amarillo. Balance is the word that carries over into the taste, moving from sweet malts with a rewarding kick of citrus (I’m getting a little grapefruit or lemon rind) in the front to a touch of lingering hops in the back. The brewery states this finishes with a dry bitterness and yes, those 50 IBUs are not lie, but this beer didn’t seem to be leaving my mouth dry like the Jurassic Age. No, it seemed to have plenty of mouth coating sweetness on the back end that left all those citrus tastes bouncing around on my tongue. It’s a beer that stayed with me for quite a bit after each sip with its mix of sweet malty goodness (Malty goodness – you know I like that) and residual hops especially as I got towards the bottom of the glass. And all that body worked well to efficiently hide that 9% ABV. In fact, if Holy Crap! refers to anything, that is a good thing for it to refer to, its alcohol’s ability to hide like a pack Velociraptors in a jungle.

I’m going to admit, I was initially not a fan of the “putting Imperial in front of a beer style” trend. Things like Imperial Pilsner usually made me shake my head because on the surface it just seemed like an excuse for breweries to hump more alcohol and hops into styles (as in this case amber/red) that normally don’t call for it. But that seems to be what the craft beer drinking crowd wants, so who am I to chide the breweries for delivering. If anything else, Holy Crap! showed me that even in styles I might otherwise raise an eyebrow at, I can find good beer. Although Reach Around is still my favorite.

Time for another beer…

THE FINAL SIP: Mispillion has just released its Mojito inspired Chupacabra with lime and mint leaves. For the record Chupacabras are easier to deal with than T-Rexes and less likely to spill  your beer. (Copyrights: Universal Studios/Mispillion River, Photoshop: The Dogs of Beer)

*It’s Devil-Witchery. That’s what a 4-pack is…….Pure…………..Devil…………..Witchery.

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