No big secret that the folks over at Ale Asylum turn out some great beer. They also have a sense of humor that doesn't go unnoticed among the faithful. The Madison brewpub's newest beer has a name that might remind you of a garage band from Sheboygan or an '80s porn star. And if it does, you're correct on both accounts.
Ale Asylum's latest creation to join the ranks of its bottled products is an imperial, or Double IPA called Satisfaction Jacksin. The name was actually used by the brewery's general manager Erik Huibregtse for his Sheboygan-area band, Satisfaction JackSin. Seems the band drew inspiration from the adult film character with the same name. Before that there was the 1988 movie Action Jackson staring Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson and Sharon Stone. "We bantered names back and forth, and when we finally stopped laughing we knew this would be memorable," says brewery co-owner Otto Dilba, who also designed the beer's label and packaging.
What is it? Satisfaction Jacksin from Ale Asylum.
Style: The imperial or double IPA intensifies the bitterness of the typical IPA. However, it's not double the strength. Many brewers who make these beers like to say they double the amount of key ingredients, especially hops. The Double IPA emphasizes bitterness, yet there should still be some malty sweetness. Because of all the malt and hops that go into these beers, the flavor is often described as complex, spicy and warm. The finish will indeed have warmth from the high alcohol level, as it often ranges above 6% ABV.
The India Pale Ale, which the style is built upon, is a style dating back to the 1700s, when the British found that using high amount of hops would preserve beer for long sea voyages. The Double IPA is an American spin on the IPA meant to satisfy those who enjoy that intense bitterness, a.k.a. hopheads.
Background: Ale Asylum brewmaster Dean Coffey made about 400 cases of this beer, and it just hit local store shelves. Coffey's recipe calls for so much malt and hops that when he was brewing the beer he found himself on top of the brewkettle -- 13 feet up -- actually forcing the lid shut on the manway with all his weight as the hops expanded in the hot liquid. "There's a mountain of ingredients, truly a double batch, because we could only brew a half-kettle at a time," he says. All of that makes a beer with an 8.2% ABV. It sells for about $15 per six-pack.
Satisfaction Jacksin showcases Centennial hops, which are known for both aroma and bitterness. Hopheads will appreciate Coffey's attention to formulating recipes, especially in that he features single hop varieties in his bitter beers. Ballistic, the brewery's IPA with citrus bitterness, is based on Amarillo hops. And the year-round Hopalicious, with its wonderful hoppy aroma, is made with Cascade hops.
Centennial hops are what Coffey calls a "kissing cousin" of Cascades, only on steroids. Coffey's recipe calls for nearly three pounds for every barrel, which by any standard is a lot of hops. His partner, Otto Dilba, says he likens this to a hoppiness that dances on the tongue; which is one reason the label's crest features a face with protruding tongue.
- Aroma: A resin-like hoppiness.
- Appearance: Hazy deep copper-bronze and a tan, marbled head.
- Texture: Full-bodied, round, bubbly.
- Taste: Strong, firm bitterness throughout with a complex malt backbone that offers hints of caramel and brown sugar.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Bitterness lingers, but the maltiness continues too, especially in its warmth.
Glassware: Satisfaction Jacksin's complex flavor is something to savor. Take your time with it, and slowly sip this beer from a snifter to appreciate its powerful resin-like aroma and the complex interplay of hops and malt. Given the price, sipping should extend the investment and pay off.
Pairs well with: You'll want something that competes for the palate, and with Satisfaction Jacksin it will be a fight. The ultimate in gastronomic satisfaction might be matching it with your favorite hot Thai dish. This is a beer that cries out for the hearty, spicy meal.
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: Satisfaction Jacksin is a beer with depth and complexity not usually found in beers called double IPAs. Too often, such brutally bitter beers seem to be about the brewer's fascination for how much hops can be crammed into a glass. But I like this beer because Dean Coffey has come up with a recipe that is not one-dimensional; rather, it's intricate in the way the massive "in your face" flavors blend together.
While Satisfaction Jacksin packs a dominant long-lasting bitterness, it also has an assertive maltiness with caramel and brown sugar tones that weave a path through the all of the hops in a rather sophisticated way. This beer leaves you with an "oh wow" sensation. There is sticker shock at $15 a six-pack, and there will be some complaints over cost. However, for those who really like hoppy beers, how can you put a price on finding a little satisfaction?