Instant Beer Review: 3rd Sign Forest IPA and Sumatra Coffee Mild Ale

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THE BEER: Forest IPA from 3rd Sign.

THE PLACE: Octopi Brewing’s taproom.

I’M CONFUSED. Don’t be. Octopi aims to contact brew for other brands. 3rd Sign is the brand Octopi created “to showcase [the brewery’s] capabilities and enter the craft beer market.”

I’M STILL CONFUSED. You’ve been drinking. It’s okay.

FAIR ENOUGH. HOW’S THE TAPROOM? It’s nice. A little Spartan, but it’s got big windows, views of the brewing equipment, and a decent-sized bar. The taps include four 3rd Sign beers, plus beer from Karben4, Metropolitan, and Bell’s, among others. Not a bad spot to kill a few hours.

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LET’S GET TO THE BEER. Yes, let’s. The 3rd sign beers are Madagascar Vanilla Mild Ale, Sumatra Coffee Mild Ale, Forest IPA, and Jungle IPA.

AND YOU WENT IPA. I did. The bartender informed me that the Forest would have a West Coast, piney flavor, and the Jungle would be a more citrusy IPA. As a typical bearded, hipster cliché faux-lumberjack in plaid, I opted for the pine.

HOW IS IT? Well… it’s fine. But honest to god, it’s not really hoppy. At all. There’s a bitter finish, but it’s not pronounced. I’m getting almost no hop aroma or flavor. And it’s certainly not piney. It’s almost more like an ESB. A perfectly drinkable, pleasant pale ale, but if you’re looking for a hopped-up IPA, look elsewhere.

ALAS. WHATEVER WILL YOU DO? I’m going to drink a Sumatra Coffee Mild Ale.

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THIS ONE BETTER TASTE LIKE COFFEE. It does! It’s like an alcoholic iced coffee. Solid. Word on the street—well, word from the barstool next to me—is that a half-and-half combo of this beer and the Madagascar Vanilla Mild is something of a taste sensation. After sipping a taster of the vanilla, I’ll buy that.

DEEP THOUGHTS: I gotta admit that the Forest is something of a disappointment, but maybe this was just an off batch; Octopi has only been rolling for a few months. And it certainly wasn’t bad, just not the flavor I expected. The Coffee Mild, on the other hand, was exactly as described. And it’s a nice joint. If you’re wandering aimlessly in Waunakee, it’s definitely worth dropping in.