11/16/23: Toppling Goliath Brewing Company's Rush Hollow Maple Ale

2:45 PM

Welcome to Maple Month 2023! Yeah, we're over half-way through November now. I was sick. Sorry. The good news is that I only have three beers slated for discussion this month because, well, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again. After failing to cross the finish line last year (I only clocked 80% of the required 50k words), I'm dialing things back on the blog to make sure I can reach the event's goal this time.


A bottle of Rush Hollow on a shelf.

But, don't you fret; the three beers I have are all promising. Take today's ale, for instance. It's a bomber-sized 8.7% monster. I know, I know. You're probably sitting there saying, "Wait. I thought John typically does the heaviest hitters later in the month. Why's he doing such a big beer now?"

Here's the thing: all three beers I'll be doing up are heavy hitters. In fact, today's beer is the lightest of them. Although I won't be around as often as I typically am in November, expect me to drink some (hopefully!) good brews for your infotainment. 

Now, with all of that out of the way, let's get to Toppling Goliath's Rush Hollow.
Toppling Goliath hails from Decorah, IA, where it was founded in 2009 by Clark and Barbara Lewey. The place gained notoriety through their IPAs and barrel program (which features the lauded Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout, a beer I've never even seen in the wild but would love to write about some November!).

Believe it or not, Rush Hollow isn't part of the brewery's barrel-aging program. This beer (which is, as stated previously, 8.7% ABV) is a rustic ale with my most favorite of adjuncts: pure maple syrup. Toppling Goliath bills it as a "...full-bodied ale with a hint of maple in the finish."

The description on Rush Hollow's label.
Straight from the horse's mouth.
My bottle (yes, I'm drinking this beer straight from the bomber containing it) boasts an incredible malty bouquet. I'm picking up on candied orange and caramel here, along with some slight smokiness, some toffee and, just maybe a hint of maple (I could easily see this "maple" being the sweetness of the malt playing off of the orange, though). I not finding much booze--that's fine, this is neither imperial nor barrel-aged. I just thought that, given the ABV, there'd be some. Overall, I like the bouquet, which is more than Purrl can claim; she gave my bottle five quick whiffs.

Purrl sniffing my open bottle of Rush Hollow.

The flavor's good and slightly rustic (if that's the word I'm looking for--it's the one most readily available to me that fits). I'm tasting the orange, toffee, and caramel noted above, along with an undercurrent of marshmallow. There's a smattering of big, obvious maple syrup flavor right between these core flavors and the finish, which is longer and drier than I'd've thought it'd be, although the maple does stick around for it. I want to liken the finish to black coffee, although the flavor's not really a fit for that (the dryness definitely is). I will say now that there's nothing in Rush Hollow's palate that denotes the 8.6% ABV--booziness is a ghost here.

I find the mouthfeel to be bright and crisp. It bites at my tongue a little, but that's perfectly fitting for the style. This drinks quick and easy.

Blame it on the marshmallow I'm picking up from the ale, blame it on the malty sweetness, the smokiness, or its bouquet, whatever--this is a perfect campfire beer. Drinking it, I can picture myself sitting outside with friends or loved  ones around a roaring fire, roasting marshmallows and laughing beneath stars dotting the clear sky overhead. Pair that with a cold November evening and you have the recipe for one hell of a good time.

Toppling Goliath's showing exactly why they're so lauded with Rush Hollow. It's a phenomenal start to Maple Month '23. It's big, yet lighter than I expected it to be, it's maple-syrup sweet, and it's a rock-solid 9.0/10. This is a high bar set for the month's two remaining beers.

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