Beer moves fast. Trends happen. Sometimes they disappear in the span of a summer—looking at you, glitter beer—sometimes they take hold of the market and change a style forever. What enthusiasts will turn their noses up at one month, is commonplace the next. Unlike food, with trendy dishes fading from menus after they peak; packaged beer, especially IPAs, stays in the rotation long after a trend has evolved or disappeared.
This isn’t a bad thing, the innovative beers of today were built on the foundation of these seminal brews. Many IPAs that were revolutionary upon their release remain fixtures on store shelves years, sometimes decades, later. That is the what happened with Anti-Hero, the flagship beer of Revolution Brewing.
At one time this IPA pushed the envelope. Charlie Papazian, founder of the Great American Beer Festival, even described it as groundbreaking upon its release in 2013 saying, “There’s a revolution brewing in Chicago. Golden, balanced, slightly acidic, full of malt and hop harmonics. You’ll give a damn about this brew if you like IPA,” in a review on All About Beer.
It’s a solid IPA that has left the revolutionizing to the newer, trendier beers of today.”
In today’s beer landscape, the flavor of Anti-Hero is like a trip down memory lane, bringing me back to a time when balancing hops meant adding crystal malt. The flavor starts with semi-sweet caramely malts kissed by some unidentifiable blend of hop bitterness—it’s a combination of Warrior, Chinook, Centennial and Amarillo. No single hop shines out, but they combine to end the flavor with notes of pine and citrus pith. It’s clear this beer is made by a brewer with expert command of English yeast. The fruity esters are present, but perfectly in check, yielding a clean beer that is refreshing on the palate with no lingering aftertaste.
The aroma mirrors the flavor; it’s sweet with a hint of bitterness. The hops take on more of a floral role in the aroma, but it is still impossible to identify individual hop varieties. Overall, it smells good enough to keep me sipping, not enough to entice me back quickly or to linger long after an inhale. It smells good and clean, if you ever get an off-flavor in this beer, it’s from the serving and not the brewing.
This beer pours a stunning, clear golden amber with an off-white head. The darker color gives an indication of the malty flavor before taking a sip. It’s nice to see a beer so clear to relieve some of the fatigue of the “haze craze.”
It looks, tastes, and smells like the classic West Coast IPAs of the early 2000s. As Revolution expands distribution throughout the Midwest and East Coast, people will see more and more Anti-Hero on tap lists. And that’s a good thing. It won’t make you roll your eyes at the haze or grimace at a gypsum bite aftertaste, but it won’t surprise or shock you either. It’s a solid IPA that has left the revolutionizing to the newer, trendier beers of today.