Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ZeeLander IPA – Toppling Goliath Brewing Company

                Last Friday I stopped by my new favorite liquor store, Three Cellars in Franklin, WI.  While I was there, it was highly recommended that I try the new ZeeLander IPA from Toppling Goliath (out of Decorah, IA) that they had on tap.  In fact, he let me know that all of the Toppling Goliath beers were in high demand with individual kegs lasting only a few days, and unfortunately they only send kegs into Wisconsin.  True to his word, the other patron in Three Cellars at that point had just ordered a ZeeLander and was loving it.  I had gone in to check his current stock and pick up a couple bottles for the Friday night home brew club meeting, but I just could not resist ordering a pint of ZeeLander.

ZeeLander is one of the beers in Topping Goliath’s “Hop Patrol Series” The Hop Patrol series is 5 beers, four of which showcase a single hop variety.  I am a huge fan of single hop variety beers, because as a home brewer it is nice to know what each individual hop variety brings to the table.  The hops represented in the series so far are Galaxy (Twisted Galaxy Double IPA and Alternate Galaxy IPA), Nelson Sauvin (ZeeLander IPA) and Columbus (1492 IPA).  Columbus is a fairly common hop in American-style IPAs, with the other two being used considerably less.  While I have had beers with both Galaxy and Columbus hops added, ZeeLander was my first experience with Nelson Sauvin, a variety from New Zealand that was introduced in 2000. 

Nelson Sauvin was developed in Nelson, NZ and derives the second half of its name from the Sauvinon Blanc grape due to hits pungent aromas off the vine.  Nelson Sauvin can be used as a bittering or aroma hop, making it one of the ideal hops to use in a single hopped beer.  It’s Alpha acid  range is 12-13% with a Cohumulone level at 24%.  Beta Acid comes in at 6-8%.  Another commercial example that showcases Nelson Savin hops is the Mikkeller Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA.  On to the review:

                There are not enough reviews on either Beeradvocate or ratebeer for ZeeLander to have a rating.

They say: 

5.5% ABV, 80 IBUs
Zelicious single-hop showcase using the Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand. Delightfully confusing aromas of citrus and mandarin oranges give way to an incredibly complex body of earth tones and marigolds. This is truly unlike any hop you’ve ever tasted.

I say: 

I know that many of my reviews so far have been positive, but few beers impress me as much as ZeeLander, both in its complexity and its drinkability.  Served on draft in a pint glass, it poured hazy orange with nice, creamy, yellow-hued off white head with excellent retention and great lacing.  The aromas were very earthy with citrus and floral notes.  I am glad the commercial description mentions marigolds because there was a distinct vegetal floral aroma, which reminded me of my grandma’s flowerbeds, and reading the commercial description helped me to place the aroma.

The flavor starts with citrus and grape, followed by strong floral and earthy notes.  I have definitely never had an IPA quite like this one, with most being overwhelmingly citrusy to the point of having little else going on.  I never would have guessed that a single hop beer could have so much hop complexity.  I am sure that some of the flavor and aroma come from the yeast choice and the grain bill, but the Nelson Savin hop really shines here.

                ZeeLander is medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation, making it an extremely drinkable beer.  I can only hope that Toppling Goliath will start distributing bottles of this wonderful beer in Wisconsin so that I can find it more readily.  Be sure to look for this beer on tap near you, or if traveling the country in search of good beer is your thing, drive out to Decorah, IA, I am sure they would love to host you in their tasting room.

                That’s all for today, I hope to get back on track tomorrow with a write up on Hefe Weiss Wheat Ale from Black Husky Brewing, a small brewery out of Pembine, WI.

                Happy Drinking!!


  1. Thanks a lot! What a great review, we are so glad that you enjoyed the ZeeLander. Thank you to Three Cellars for being so persistent to get our beer!

    Can't wait to visit and have a pint with you guys soon.


    (Toppling Goliath Brewing Co)

  2. Thank you for the great response! I can't wait to try more of your beers, even if it calls for a road trip.