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Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": New Holland Mad Hatter IPA

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Nov 8, 2006 5:00PM

2006_11_madhatter.jpg In just ten years, Holland, Michigan-based New Holland Brewing Company has established itself as a craft brewer to be reckoned with, fashioning high quality beers and even delving into flavored brandies and liqueurs available at their brewpub.

Along with Sundog, Mad Hatter IPA is their most notable brew. If you aren't a "hop head", you might take a while getting acquainted with this overly heady ale worthy of being named after a deranged genius with a penchant for outlandish haberdashery. It's teeming with hops, almost to the point where beer drinkers who love hoppy beers sometimes complain about the bitterness. What keeps Mad Hatter from becoming a failed experiment is the sweetness of the malt, with gives the brew a complex citrus aroma and undertones of honey. The hops also lead to a lingering dry finish, like waking up from a dream about Democrats retaking the House of Representatives.

What? That actually happened? Holy Shit!!

Anyway. No less a critic than Michael Jackson - the "Beer Hunter", not the pedophile King of Pop/real life Mad Hatter - said said drinking Mad Hatter IPA reminded him of "tropical fruit trees in a hot house."

2006_11_madhatsimons.jpgWe try not to be as flowery about our description, but after lifting a few pints of Mad Hatter at Simon's in Andersonville last Saturday, we could empathize with how the "Beer Hunter" came to his conclusion. The elegant pint glasses the folks at Simon's use for their draft beers also allowed the aromas to hit our nose immediately, as they're perfectly suited for slow pours and long settling, and coming up with dream playlists on Simon's jukebox. Lifting a few pints also led to our becoming nostalgic about our days in Andersonville and Edgewater, before the invasion of the stroller infantry led merchants to post signs reminding "children of all ages to use their indoor voices."

India Pale Ales are perfect complements for sharp cheeses, mild weather and Indian summers, and few can compare to New Holland Mad Hatter IPA. We expect a run on this in draft as taverns across the city (like Simon's) start searching for replacements for Bell's and Sierra Nevada (which switched distributors to the evil Chicago Beverage Systems the same week Bell's pulled their beers from Illinois rather than deal with CBS). New Holland Mad Hatter IPA is our Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week."