Saturday's visit to Gigantic Brewing and the sampling of two of their collaboration beers made an impression on us. Remembering that Apex had recently had four Gigantic collaboration beers on tap, Sunday morning I checked their "Live Beer Board" (on a side note, this is such a great, yet simple feature that I wish more places would adopt the practice) and was pleased to see that we hadn't missed the boat. The Board was still showing four collaboration beers on tap.
Mid-afternoon we made the short jaunt to Apex and ordered the other two collaboration beers Gigantic hadn't been pouring. No surprise, Mag went with the Cascadian Pilsner, a collaboration with Laurelwood, and I was happy to fall on the grenade of the Hoppy Hoppy Nano Beer IIPA. He's a pilsner fan to begin with but usually I'll take one whiff and be turned off. Occasionally, a beer will pass my sniff test so I'll move on to a small taste. Of those few that pass the sniff test, quite a few more fall by the wayside after tasting. This was one of those rare times when a beer made it past both tests, as it offered none of the "pilsner stank" I so dislike. In fact, as I told Mag, this is a pilsner I would actually order and enjoy drinking. My guess is the Cascadian part of the name indicates that it is hoppier than most pilsners and possibly there are non-standard pilsner style hops being used (this is pure speculation on my part). So while I enjoyed the beer, if you're a true to style pilsner fan, know that this will be quite different than that. Who knows, though, maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised as well.
By the time I got around to tasting my beer I'd already been impressed with three Gigantic collaborations - the Cascadian Pilsner as well as the Schwarzenfreude Baltic Porter (which interestingly I didn't feel was completely true to style either) and Collabo Wabo (amber/red) was pleasantly hoppier than many ambers/reds. Therefore I'll freely admit I was primed to enjoy this beer, too. Hoppy Hoppy Nano Beer IIPA, a collaboration with Breakside Brewing, was bordering on "big" with 8.2% ABV and poured a beautiful red. For a double IPA I found it to be more hoppy than sweet and although it drinks a bit heavy I wouldn't have guessed it was above 7% ABV.
The moral of the story is that if these collaborations are any indication of what Gigantic will be producing on their own, we're in for many tasty treats.