Once a Tulsa-only tap feature, Prairie Artisan Ale’s oddly approachable double IPA Phantasmagoria changed the way the Oklahoma brewery was perceived by the rest of the beer world.
Both juicy and resinous without an overwhelming ABV, this is the beer that Prairie has gone forward with as its flagship IPA, joining its imperial stout Bomb! and hopped saison Standard as its leading offerings in its 25-state footprint. But Phantasmagoria is totally unlike either of those beers—or any beer Prairie has released to date.
Phantasmagoria mounts an incredible froth when poured into the glass. It billows up like spray insulation, forming a beige, lip-gripping barrier between the surface of the beer and the rim of the glass. The body itself is a lemon curd yellow that sits thick and milky. This is a bit of a red herring, as the flavor proves.
More lemon comes through in the nose. This beer smells bright and clean, like a freshly cut lawn on a July day. There’s just a touch of caramelized honey sitting beneath the surface, and this is ultimately a harbinger of what’s to come in the sip. Phantasmagoria’s aroma leads you to believe this will be a crisp afternoon crusher, but oh boy, that is not the case.
Is it the best of both worlds or a cruel bait-and-switch? That all depends on how much you like surprises.”
After setting you up to think that you’re getting into a juicy, citrusy IPA, Phantasmagoria smacks with you with a staunch, resinous reality. Pine takes over from lemon. The sugary crest of booze conquers the freshness. Just when you think all those lovely, fresh IPA elements have gone by the wayside, the sip ends with a peculiar flush of mango and mandarin orange.
Phantasmagoria is a beer of illusions, taunting you with the promise of a light punch of Northeast citrus only to wallop you with a torrent of West Coast pitch. Is it the best of both worlds or a cruel bait-and-switch? That all depends on how much you like surprises. But a little sleight of hand goes a long way in the brewing world, and Prairie wields this double IPA like a true sorcerer.