Reviewed: Evil Twin Sumo in A Sidecar
Product description: This is our take on a classic cocktail with an Asian twist and a cool name. An IPA with apricot and a slim hint of umami. It’s crisp, fruity and perhaps full-bodied.
Evil Twin Brewing – Evil Twin Sumo in A Sidecar – 16 oz. can poured into specialty glassware – 7% abv.
Sampled from a 16oz can, I checked the bottom for a canning date but I only see a batch number. This beer’s name and recipe are inspired by a cocktail, which I was not familiar with so I looked it up. The cocktail includes lime, apricot brandy, sake, lemon, simple syrup, and dried apricot. Where has that been all my life?
Into the glass, Sumo comes out crystal clear, bright straw in color. But while I’m pouring the end of the can, some sizeable yeast chunkies dump in, which cloud up the beer. Head formation is then weaker than usual for a hoppy style as is head retention.
Digging in, the aroma begins with fresh pineapple soft serve and pineapple upside down cake. As it warms, honeysuckle and sweet tupelo honey come through. But I never get apricot specifically – it’s something sweeter and more dessert-like. Taste-wise, Sumo is slightly sweet at the front of the palate with dried fruit flavors present but not overdone. The sweetness piles on to become just a touch high for me as if some high-quality honey has been stirred in. The bitterness here is totally undetectable, so I don’t get “fruit IPA” as much as just fruit blonde ale. Stone’s Vengeful Spirit was an example of a fruit IPA where the bitterness aspect was dialed up to about the maximum level tolerable without going overboard. But here it’s absent.
The mouthfeel is great with sweet Hawaiian rolls and fresh bread providing the base. It’s pretty richly bodied with honey, some alcohol presence, white sugar, and yellow apple. Sumo double downs on that dessert character, so I’m not getting the refreshing quality I would expect from something labeled as an IPA with apricots.
I’d like to see a version of this beer with brighter fruit character, less sugar, and higher bitterness. But that would probably betray the beer’s goal of emulating this specific cocktail, which I’m sure it has nailed right on the head. Whereas Stone’s Vengeful Spirit may not go over well with every beer drinker, I think Sumo in a Sidecar is approachable for everyone, especially those newly into craft beer, because of its soft body, low bitterness, moderate ABV, and sweet dessert character that never goes overboard.
The next time I’m at a cocktail bar, I’m ordering a Sumo in a Sidecar.