TUPPS’ Northbound 75 Really Burns Our Rubber.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on TUPPS Brewery‘s Northbound 75.

Fast Facts on TUPPS Brewery Northbound 75.
Style: Pale Ale / Spiced, Herb or Vegetable Beer.
ABV: 6 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 39.
Color: Deep Gold.
Availability: Kegs and cans.

I want to tell you about how I detest pepper beers and others of the vegetal ilk. I want to tell you that I wish breweries would quit messing around with weird flavors. And I want to tell you that DFW breweries should stick to the basics.

But I can’t. I have recently become a fan of pepper beers and of the SHV (Spiced, Herb, Vegetable) style.

What brought on this change of tide for my palate? Is it boredom? Is it longing for something original? While Northbound 75 isn’t the first pepper beer in the DFW market, TUPPS does have something special going on with this one. It’s got hops and smoky, meaty vegetal peppers all in one sip. Craft purists, take caution: This may not be the beer for you. But hey, this beer is fun, and you don’t find a whole ton of poblano pepper beers on the market.

Background on SHV Beer.
SHV beer builds on a base beer style. In this case with Northbound 75, the base beer is a pale ale. But this review is going to steer away from spending too much time on the well-known pale ale style and go straight in for the SHV action. If you’re new to the SHV style, check out our review of Peticolas’ Ghost of Alfred Brown. SHV beers should use spice, herb or vegetable to complement the base beer, not overwhelm it. Based on what I am learning about peppers, however, there is a razor thin line to walk between just the right amount of heat and mouth-burning inferno. Peppers can also be fickle on flavor from batch to batch and from farm to farm. So it’s sort of a crap shoot. Sounds scary!

Northbound 75 is a nice deep gold color, an orange-y goodness you sometimes see from pale ales that are made with a delightful blend of Maris Otter and other color-deepening crystal malts. The beer is fairly clear, with a small amount of particulate haze that never seems to settle out. This isn’t a deal-breaker; I’m just an asshole about clear beer when I feel like it’s important. And a little bit of haze is totally OK in the pale ale style.

If you smell gently, you can pick out some hops in this beer. For the most part, Northbound 75 focuses on bittering hops. Or at least that’s what my nose is telling me. The peppery vegetable situation on the nose seems to shove most other sensations out of the way. The vegetal aroma subsides after its initial intensity and a smoky sensation takes over.

The first taste sensation I get is intense vegetable. It’s like someone scraped out the pepper and meat from inside a poblano pepper — a medium-hot one — and I’m left with a beautiful bouquet. Well, yeah, the heat is there, but it’s a slow, creeping heat. My face isn’t hot yet, and that’s a good thing. I’m sipping this beer. If I were to drink it quicker, I think the hot face would kick in. There’s a smoke note in the aftertaste that hangs around with the pepper. I like the smoke note, and I also need to say that smoke flavor in beer is hard to pull off successfully. Behind the peppers and the smoke, there is just a kiss of hops also present in the aftertaste. The bitterness plays nice with the pepper and smoke. I don’t think that this beer would be any better if it had more hop character.

Northbound 75 has a medium body. It finishes crisp and clean. It is not over the top with booziness tasting for its 6 percent ABV, and it does not taste thin on the mouth. It’s just right.

Overall Impression.
If you’re not in to the SHV style, this beer is not for you — it’s just that simple. But before you write it off, you owe it to yourself to ask your bartender for a sample if you see it on draft somewhere. This beer uses the lowly poblano pepper, an everyday relleno sort of pepper, and elevates the vegetable’s culinary status by giving it a different life as a beer addition. If there’s anything I’d change in this beer, I would maybe dial back the spice a bit. It’s not overbearing for me, but I also understand that some people shy away from spicy things. Of the few DFW pepper beers, Northbound 75 makes a great addition to this misfit set of toys. One additional point that I’d like to make is that I bought a six pack of this beer about a month ago, but ended up drinking it all before I could write a review on it. And now I’m back to the pepper beer well. I guess I do like this style after all.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give TUPPS Brewery Northbound 75 a 7.8935_2
8935_5What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Friday, April 22. Sustainable Beer Garden at Fair Park.
• Saturday, April 23. Brewfest on Crockett at West 7th in Fort Worth.
• Saturday, April 23. Brewery Dog Birthday Party at Oak Highlands.
• Sunday, April 24. Crawfish Boil at BrainDead Brewing.
• Saturday, April 30. One-Year Anniversary Party at Texas Ale Project.
• Sunday, May, 1. Bugs and Brews at Granada Theater Parking Lot.
• Sunday, May, 15. Brew Riot at Bishop Arts.
• Saturday, May, 21. North Texas Firkin Fest at Globe Life Park.
• Saturday, June 11. Untapped: Fort Worth at Panther Island Pavilion.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Nine Bands’ Cactus Cat: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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