Empyrean Brewing Company - Watch Man IPA
Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs):51
Serving Temperature:45-50º F
Suggested Glassware:IPA Glass, Pint Glass, Tulip
Malts:Pale 2-Row, Dark Crystal, Aromatic
Hops:Nugget, Comet, Cashmere
Watch Man IPA pours quite hazy and quite deeply colored with a goldish to amber hue topped by a persistent and lasting head of khaki foam that drops some lace as we drink this down. On the nose, look for a nicely floral, herbal, and fruity hop character offering plenty of citrus tones evoking mandarin and lemon-lime, stone fruit leaning toward apricot and peach, sliced melon, and very light currant-like hints. As we take a sip, we’re greeted by a pleasantly fruity hop expression that also delivers a nice herbal, spicy bite. Zesty citrus peel jumps out right away along with well-developed stone fruit character. We enjoyed the malt profile in this IPA too, which offers more than enough smooth heft and a good deal of toastiness to support the bold hops – which, interestingly, were all grown in Nebraska. Bitterness is firm, easily drying out a dash of malt sweetness and hanging on in the finish with a lingering note of resinous citrus. For pairing options, Empyrean recommends creamy pasta dishes, hearty salads, and flaky grilled fish. We think this IPA is quite food friendly with fried and grilled dishes, and has enough acidity to cut through fattier fare. A juicy burger sounds excellent to us, as does a bunch of carnitas tacos. Cheers!
The story of Empyrean Brewing Company begins with the founding of Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill in Lincoln, NE in 1990. Accomplished homebrewer Rich Chapin was brought in as Head Brewer to helm the brewing side of the new business. When Lazlo’s opened its doors and served its first beers to the public in March, 1991, it became the state’s first brewpub, going on to produce about 500 barrels in its first year. The brewpub concept proved popular with the locals, and in 1997 the brewery was spun off as its very own enterprise under the name Empyrean – a word tracing its origins to Aristotle’s notion of cosmology and representing the highest part of the heavens. By 1998, production capacity was expanded to 2500 barrels per year, though at this point it was all draft. When they installed a bottling line the next year, Empyrean became the first craft brewery in Nebraska to do so, and it allowed them to begin establishing a retail footprint for the first time.
In 2000, Lazlo’s expanded by opening a second brewpub location, and the increased demand from the restaurant plus their growing retail business pushed Empyrean to open a newer, larger brewhouse in 2001. By decade’s end, distribution had reached throughout all of Nebraska and into neighboring Iowa and South Dakota.
Today, Empyrean can be found in nine states, including in the Chicagoland area as of 2022. They produce a slate of around ten core year-round beers along with five rotating seasonals and an array of additional limited-run, hop-focused, and barrel-aged brews. In addition to a focus on excellent beer, Empyrean is focused on being good stewards of the planet; they donate 150 tons of spent grain to local farmers each year, use geothermal heating and cooling technology, and their warehouse boasts the largest privately owned solar array in Nebraska. For more info, visit them at empyreanbrewingco.com.
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