Tasting Notes: Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasUndercoverPour1000In order to get a head start on St. Patty’s Day weekend, we are shutting down the office early and getting into some Tasting Notes on the infamous Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Brewed in “remembrance of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Massacre and in commemoration of the 20-day suspension that followed” (click here to get more info on that event and an explanation of the featured photo above), Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is Lagunitas Brewing Company’s “especially bitter” response to the ABC’s claim that the brewery was operating a “Disorderly House” on that fateful day.  Best described as an American Strong Ale, Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is a “malty and rich beer with a snappy hop finish [that] truly defies style…Imperial Mild?…Uber ESB?” Who knows?! What we do know – besides the fact that this beer’s name is incredibly long – is that Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale clocks in at an unruly 9.6% ABV and 66.6 IBUs and cannot possibly be held accountable for its actions.  Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is available now as a Limited Release offering, and you can track it down in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s vast distribution area.

Now that we have covered the background on this subject, let’s dig deep and crack the case on this Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance: This brew presents itself as a dark amber in color with just a slight orange hue to it.  When held to direct light, that orange tone gains intensity and the liquid takes on more of a bright, shining copper appearance. The beer is impeccably clear and displays a bountiful carbonation presence dedicated in its mission to feed the perfect finger of frothy white foam resting above.  Head retention is quite good, and that foam provides a huge amount of lace that utterly coats the Mason Jar-style glass by the end of the experience.

Aroma:  Pine confidently steps forward first and fills the nose with resiny hop goodness. This eventually takes a gentle turn to the floral before a countering presence of caramel and grain settles in.  Not to be outdone, the hops surface one last time with a parting pop of citrus zest.

Taste:  The script flips in this arena as the flavors lead with a soothing presence of caramel and toffee.  To keep things from getting overly sweet, the hops follow closely behind with a resinous pine note that is accompanied by grassy and floral tones.  A fruit-filled character then surfaces in the form of tropical mango, candied orange and a bit of grapefruit zest.  Still, even as all these hop notes gain momentum, there remains a composed layer of sweet grain and malt interwoven throughout to keep the bitterness in check.  Really nicely done here.

Mouthfeel:  With a spot-on medium body and a moderate carbonation level, this beer has a creamy feel and a somewhat long finish that leaves behind notes of orange and grapefruit zest.  Although it puts in some serious work on both the bitter and sweet sides of palate, this beer’s level of balance is simply stunning. Combine that with an ABV that translates much lighter than its 9.6%, and you are left with a big ol’ brew that is dangerously drinkable.

Final Thoughts: This may be another beer that steps outside the norm to defy style guidelines, but somehow it is blatantly obvious that Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale nailed the brewery’s intentions and expectations.  We say that because every aspect of this beer is synced up. Its look is absolutely gorgeous and coyly lures you in for sip after sip.  The aromatics and flavors have achieved a brilliant level of balance.  The feel is so damn smooth and has just enough weight to properly carry the experience. And then there’s that hidden ABV . . . We wracked our brains but could not come up with another beer that exceeds 9% ABV and drinks this easy and refreshing.

All in all, we had a hard time deciding whether this beer was more dumbfounding or sensical, and then it hit us. Not only does this beer properly commemorate a moment in the history of Lagunitas, but it also lives up to its name (especially the “Undercover Investigation” portion) by being a well-orchestrated, sneaky brew that will get you into trouble if you let it.  It warns you to proceed with caution while still encouraging you to enjoy the hell out of every moment spent with an Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale in your hand.  If a beer could be a maniacal genius, it would be this one.  Be sure to check it out.  Prost!