Classical Beer Review: PseudoSue Pale Ale

Back of pseudoSue Pale Ale – Toppling Goliath.

On my last day in the US, Kyle and I went on a trip to the Quad Cities to have a few beers. At one of our stops – Radicle Effects Brewwerks  – I had the chance to try pseudoSue Pale Ale by Toppling Goliath, the same brewery that did the Pompeii beer from one of our previous reviews. PseudoSue is one of Toppling Goliath’s first and most sought-after beers. Its popularity sparked the creation of King Sue, an imperial or double IPA that became a ‘whale’ in its own right. As of January 2017, pseudoSue is rebranded as a collaboration with the Chicago Field Museum (see ‘background’ below). I was lucky enough to try what must have been one of the first batches of this ‘new’ pseudoSue, as I had my can on February 25th and I distinctly recall it being about a month old. This is the kind of freshness one wants when drinking a hoppy beer – so, kudos to Radicle Effects for serving us only the best! The malts in the beer produced a flavor that reminded Kyle of cookie dough. This sweetness helped balance out the citrus and hoppy bitterness from the Citra hops, making for a super smooth beer that lives up to its status.

The prefix “pseudo” comes from the ancient Greek “pseudes” (lying, false). In modern usage, it refers to something that behaves like or appears to be one thing, but is actually something else. Thus, pseudoSue refers to something that seems to be a “Sue” but in fact is not a “Sue”.

So who is this Sue that the beer’s name refers to but does not claim to be? Well, I can tell you it’s not the notorious “Boy named Sue” that Johnny Cash sings about. Instead, it’s Sue the T-Rex! Sue is the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found. It was named after its discoverer, Sue Hendrickson, and is on permanent display in the Field Museum in Chicago. The brewers at Toppling Goliath were inspired to name their beers pseudoSue and King Sue after the dinosaur and even used images of the T-rex on their beer art. This led to a trademark dispute with the Field Museum, which was ultimately resolved by a collaboration between the two organisations. As part of the collaboration, the logo of the museum is now printed on the pseudoSue and King Sue beer labels, the museum will temporarily be the only place in Illinois where pseudoSue is available and a collaboration brew exclusive to the Field Museum is scheduled for 2017.

Now what does this interesting dispute involving a dinosaur have to do with Classical Greece or Rome you may ask? Well, both something and nothing at the same time! On the one hand, as I already explained ‘pseudo’ comes from ancient Greek. What is more, the name Tyrannosaurus rex is an ancient Greek/Latin bonanza. Tyrannosaurus combines the ancient Greek words for “tyrant” and  “lizard,” whereas “rex” is the Latin word for “king.” So Tyrannosaurus rex literally means “King of the Lizard Tyrants.” Pretty bad ass Classics fact if you ask me. On the other hand, dinosaurs themselves are not the realm of scholars of the Classical world. Yet upon telling people we are archaeologists, Kyle and I often get dinosaur-related comments or questions. PseudoSue – with its name that combines ancient Greek and a famous dinosaur – gives us the ultimate opportunity to set the record straight: we do not study dinosaurs, that’s the realm of paleontologists. Think Ross from Friends.

Precisely my point, Ned. Source:

Side note: pseudoSue was not the first collab between the Field Museum and a brewery. Previous collaborations include a fundraiser beer made by Two Brothers Brewing and a recreation of a 1000 year old recipe by Off Color Brewing. That’s right up BCS’ alley; we can’t wait to find out what Toppling Goliath and the museum come up with!

16 oz (can)
5.8% ABV
Brewed by: Toppling Goliath, Decorah, IA.

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