A QUICK ONE :: Going Undercover with Lagunitas

by David Daugherty on June 27, 2011

Ever take a look at the description of a beer on the label and ask yourself, “There has to be something behind this?”  That’s what I thought when I picked up a bottle of Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale.  Let’s start off with the particulars of this American Strong Ale and we’ll finish it up with this name business.

There’s a lot going on to the nose, floral and citrus hops, but also the maltiness I like in a strong ale. Brown in color, a good, long lasting head (stayed throughout) after being poured into the pint glass, the characteristics of a smooth cream ale. As for the taste, well, it was strong.You get that malty, bready, chewy mouth feel. There’s a notable sweetness with the hop flavors pushing their way through to give it a nice bitter finish. The serious alcohol presence (9.7%ABV) becomes more intense as the beer warms but the warming also accentuates all of the attributes this beer has to offer.  All in all, a very tasty beer. This is a stand-alone ale that I really wouldn’t want to pair with anything except maybe a good shot of whiskey and a cigar.

Now for the history behind Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale, and it’s a good one. The label reads, “We brewed this especially bitter ale in dedication to all the world’s would-be astronauts, in remembrance of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Massacre on the Brewery Party Grounds and also in joyous celebration of our 20-day suspension that following January. Do the crime. Do the time. Get the bragging rights. Cheers.”

The story might already be known to most everyone on the left coast but for the rest:

We're not sayin' this was the guy, but... just kiddin'

Every Thursday night, the brewery would have regular tasting’s. One night, someone noticed another smoking pot in the parking lot and reported it, which led police to do an 8 week undercover investigation at the brewery. They went there to try and buy pot but all they got were plenty of people offering to share but not sell. Infuriated that they couldn’t buy any pot, they finally decided to arrest some people on St Patrick’s Day 2005 and shut the brewery down for 20 days the following year. Some may think that that was pretty harsh but had the police been able to buy the pot, they would have seized the brewery and all its operations which sadly could have meant the end of Lagunitas! God forbid! Thankfully, they are still with us and as defiant as their label, they make great beer.

Go on with your bad self!



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