Jaago | Azadi Brewing
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I remember having a certain debate about bands back when I was in high school in the late 90s. Did you like slower songs or the faster songs? When was this band at their best in your opinion? Some common bands debated – Nine Inch Nails (faster), Smashing Pumpkins (slower), Soundgarden (faster), Pearl Jam (even). I like Nine Inch Nails’ slow stuff (see Hurt, Something I Can Never Have, La Mer), but I think they’re at their best when it’s a faster song. And so I’ve arrived at Azadi Brewing’s Jaago.
I’ve had more Azadi than the site would have you believe. But for the site, I’ve had their Kadak chai stout (on the Local News show) and their Gir fruited IPA. The Kadak balanced the stout and the chai spices expertly, while the Gir competently added the kesar mango to the hoppy IPA. The Gir was fine and I’d drink it again, but the Kadak was something I recommend to non-Chicagoans to try. So when I saw Jaago – a chicory amber ale – I had to grab it based on my experience with Kadak.
Jaago pours a lovely light orange color. Depending on how you’re looking at it, an array of colors can greet you. Gold. Yellow. Yes, amber. Comparing it to a food, caramel comes to mind. You can’t see through it but a little light manages to peek through. Two fingers of white, puffy head glacially recede until only a thin layer remains. All told, it’s darker than a typical amber ale.
Jaago has an aroma so unique and diverse that you’ll remember it for a while. Caramel, toffee and some malt sweetness form the base. The presence of chicory definitely adds some character to the aroma – notes of cola, twigs, cherries, raisins, and other fruits come through in waves. The last time I smelled something like this in a locally made beer was Forbidden Root’s namesake beer from way back when they opened. Definitely something you’ll not get in a majority of beers out there.
Needless to say, Jaago has a lot going on when it hits the tongue. Light notes of caramel and toffee lead to a slightly bitter finish. That bitter finish really helps with the drinkability of Jaago. The malt adds a nice little kiss of sweetness. The chicory, of course, stars here. A big smack of various fruits – nothing I can specifically pick out – along with some nuttiness come out and play. That chicory provides some earthy notes as well, which I perceive as root beer-like.
The medium mouthfeel really assists with Jaago, assisting with some effervescence and some lingering sweetness. Long after I took a sip, a familiar candy note struck me. Somehow this chicory amber ale managed to give off Werther’s flavors. Slight, but recognizable.
This confirms my belief that Azadi excels with these odd or rarely used ingredient and style combinations. Jaago takes the best from an amber ale and spins it on its head with a lovely addition of chicory. Much like Kadak, that chicory addition is balanced, never going overboard with the rootiness and still maintaining the amber ale characteristics. If you see an odd flavor/style combination from Azadi, do yourself a favor and grab it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s the fast Nine Inch Nails!