Yes, I know: I'm late.  Lauelwood's Megafauna was released in July but I first had a chance to try it only recently at The Hop and Vine this past Sunday for the final event of Killer Beer Week.  I'd heard the buzz about Megafauna...there was a lot.  Honestly, I was a little burnt out by then with the big, bold Northwest imperial IPAs.  They'd all started to blur and become conflated in my mind, all having a similar character: a powerful, intense bitter finish with a heavy, bready malt backbone - attempting to strike some tenuous balance, but becoming like syrup as they warm.  There would be one ideal and quickly fleeting temperature for these beers, at which point the malt and hop characters were perfectly balanced. Serve it too cold, and it was just bitter, serve it to warm and it was like drinking from a can of malt extract.  And my question always was: why?  What are they trying to hide with so much of everything but no space for nuance or complexity?

I will now apologize for thinking Megafauna would be another one of those.  How wrong I was. 

From the Laurelwood website:
This beer takes its name from the oversized animals of the Pleistocene Era, or Ice Age. Large saber toothed cats, hairy elephants, sloths the size of buses roamed the frozen tundras. Everything was big and/or hairy, with extra horns, tusks, teeth, etc. A tough time to be fighting for survival…Like those massive animals, this beer is huge with hop aroma and flavor. We used several new aromatic hop varieties to get a layered and hop oil soaked beer which, unlike the frozen tundra, isn’t bitter, and finishes dry. The Aroma and flavor are layers of Pine, citrus and tropical fruit and the beer is a pale gold. We hope you drink it in good health and keep warm.
9.5% ABV / 140 IBU / O.G. 20.5° Plato
At 9.5% ABV and with a whopping 140 IBUs, one would think this beer could be compared to the big, hairy beasts of the Pleistocene era.  But I would compare it more to a hummingbird: deceptively delicate, but powerful. It pours a pale gold with a lighter body - definitely NOT loaded down with those bready, syrupy malts.  The aroma is floral, citrusy and FRESH.  My friend described it well: it's the smell of opening up a fresh bag of hops.  And the flavor is similar: complex with fresh hops throughout - floral citrus, fresh fruit and pine and a very well-integrated, delicate and balanced malt profile.  Not overly sweet, a dry finish - and you would never know it packs such a punch as there's no discernible booziness at all.

Because Laurelwood brewer, Vasilios Gletsos, is a pretty good friend of mine, I think I haven't given him a fair shake because I didn't want to be biased.  But after recently trying Laurelwood's Pumpkin Ale - one of the only pumpkin beers I've ever liked (the other one being Propolis Mabon Farmhouse Pumpkin Ale, or Alaskan Pumpkin Porter for a delicious spiced chocolate take on the pumpkin beer) - and now Megafauna, I'm now, objectively, convinced: Vasilios is a master.  You need to keep an eye on Laurelwood because there will surely be more great things to come.

As of Monday night, Megafauna was still on tap at The Hop and Vine, so go out and get some before it's gone!
 


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