Archive for December, 2012

Fun With Beer: Guadalupe Brewing Co. – Rye IPA


In continuing last week’s review of Guadalupe Brewing’s Texas Honey Ale and committed diatribe on the importance of bees, I think it would be helpful to review another one of their brews.  It’s another one of their consistent tap handles that are easier to find than their special release stuff, this one also a permanent fixture at Oma Gurene’s Secret Garten.  Don’t worry, I won’t get on a big rant about how the world hinges on the proliferation of Rye…  for at least a few more sentences.

I’ve noticed that Rye beers have always stood out to me as pretty good.  The Finnish Sahti beer is made with malted rye, and the dark, grainy flavor has always been one I like in a drinking type situation, not to mention that it goes quite well with it’s ‘sister food’, pumpernickel or rye bread.  I mean, if you want to talk about beer pairings with food, this one is baby-town frolics.  It’s as obvious as pairing a chocolate cake with a chocolate stout, or skittles and a macro adjunct lager, or a high-gravity malt liquor with a second can of high-gravity malt liquor.  Heck, why do you think bums love to pair the two so much?  Why do you think some liquor stores will shrink wrap three of them together.  It’s just good science.Now, your mileage may vary when it comes to not a Rye, but a Rye IPA.  When it comes to pairing IPAs, the pairings have quite a range.  Beef, thai food, buffalo wings, Fish, Shrimp; big flavor, spicy, bland, pretty much everything but dessert, but I wouldn’t quote me on that.  Note: spicy things can have their capsaicin kick amplified by an IPA bitterness, so only pair if you consistently find yourself reaching for the pepper sauce.  So, what could reconcile these two pretty different flavor profiles?  Well, let us think for a minute: what can use rye or pumpernickel and also go along with something for the IPA?  The answer is obvious!  A delicious Reuben sandwich on rye!  Nice, big portion of beef, spicy mustard, and of course, rye bread.  Thankfully Oma Gurene’s had one on the menu.  Good stuff.I got my sandwich and my mug of Rye IPA, and I was ready to roll.  It pours a nice light brown amber, with just a bit of a wet white head.  The nose was, in typical IPA fashion, strong with hops.  There was a definite herbal quality to it, like a fresh, resinous coriander or oregano.  Also a good bit of pine, maybe even citrus.  I was surprised at the level of complexity in the nose alone, but I think the taste is what stands out.  You get the really complex, beautiful bouquet of the hops, but also the rye comes out to some effect in the malt.  It is a kind of bready, spicy tinge in an otherwise sweet malty background.  Really, it would be an amazing IPA even without the rye, but the addition of it really gives it that extra uniqueness to it.  IPAs will tend to ignore the notion of an interesting malt profile, but I think making it a rye IPA adds a good patch to it.  Guadalupe’s is good, and I would recommend a try for anyone, IPA lover or not.

Fun With Beer: Guadalupe Brewing Co. – Texas Honey Ale

I have a fun fact for you: If all the bees suddenly died, it would probably destroy the world.  Well, I guess that’s not that fun of a fact.  But for real, bees are important, if cruddy Jerry Seinfeld cartoons are to be believed.  If bees don’t pollinate plants, plants die, then cows can’t eat, and beef prices skyrocket, causing mass riots and unrest.  Before you know it, we’re living in Soylent Green and there’s no going back.  Is that the world you want to live in?  You’re a monster.
Luckily, there is a way to help bees without really even trying or thinking about it or caring all that much.  Guadalupe Brewing Co. out of New Braunfels, Texas donates a portion of their sales from their Texas Honey Ale to the Texas A&M Entomology Department.  That’s the department where the weird buzzing sound is coming from.  Their Bee Research facility is doing the good work on making sure our planet doesn’t collapse from the bee-side out, so you know it’s a good cause.  And if saving these yellow and black swarms of picnic-ruining bastards isn’t incentive enough for you, there’s also the fact that it is a ding-danged good honey ale.
As an added bonus, according to some sources, ingesting local honey builds up your immune system to the allergens in the flowers and plants the honey is made of.  And by “some sources”, I mean the smelly dude with the dreadlocks at Whole Foods that looks down on your for not buying the eight dollar potato.  But hey, who knows who he heard it from and what kind of hair they had.
Anyhow, I was lucky enough to try this over at Oma Gruene’s Secret Garten the night they opened their new Tap Room.  In addition to their Rye IPA, Americano Wheat, and a special Bourbon Barrel-aged Chocolate Stout, I tried their Texas Honey Ale and instantly fell in love.  I sprung for the Guadalupe branded pint glass, quite happily, and got a nice cold pour of this golden brew.  It was a hazy golden yellow, with just a bit of a creamy head on it.  It almost was about the color of honey, but a fair deal clearer.  The nose, however, didn’t really give up much of that unique honeyed scent.  Sure, there was a bit of sweetness from the golden malt, and some nice wheat notes, but nothing honey.
The first taste, I most definitely get the honey.  Now, I know there are some people out there who don’t like honey for some bizarre reason, but I love the stuff.  This beer has a great honey flavor, all sweet and just a touch of floral.  You know, it’s really hard to examine what honey tastes like because there are so many different kinds, but I most certainly get floral from this.  I also get a hint of citrus, very fruity and bright like a tangerine, but that may actually be from the hops.  There is just a bit of hop bitterness to balance out the slight and mild malt profile, but they are both greatly complimented by the honey.  Recently I tried a dry-hopped honey mead, but this feels almost like an opposite on the same scale.  Guadalupe’s Texas Honey Ale is light, VERY refreshing, slightly malty and hoppy, but with a truly amazing honey flavor.

Fun With Beer: Faust Brewing Co. – OktoberFaust

Continuing from the review of last week’s review from the Faust Brewing Co., I think it would be good to review their seasonal featured beer, OktoberFaust.  As with every year, the start of the German festival celebrating that delicious social lubricant started Seventeen days before the first Sunday in October.  According to reports from the fest, it’s still going strong with millions tourists around the globe flocking to Munich for the over 200 year old festival.  Every year, around 7 million liters of Oktoberfest beer is served, which is about as much as three Olympic-size swimming pools.  That is a downright insane volume of beer, but they find a way.  For those of us without the means to take a European trip every Fall, the tradition of brewing an Oktoberfest-style beer is alive and well in the American craft beer community.
Generally, when people talk about an Oktoberfest beer, they are referring to a Märzen lager, Märzen meaning the month of March.  Its traditional origins were from a dark, full-bodied beer that was brewed sometime between early-Fall and mid-Spring.  This beer would be kept in the cellar and consumed throughout summer, with the last bottles being used up in the Oktoberfest itself.  While it generally is a dark-colored beer, the label can be applied from light colored Helles Märzen to dark Dunkels Märzen.  As it is a lager beer, it has a crisp, dry finish and something of a noble hop profile.
The bartender at the Faust recommended this to me when I asked for something that had a big, full flavor, but not super aggressive like an IPA.  What I got was a pint of OktoberFaust, their seasonal house beer on tap.  It pours a very clear dark amber, with just a touch of a wet, white head.  I wouldn’t really say it is as dark as your average Dunkels, but it was far from pale.  A good walnut brown.
The nose to it was reminiscent of classic dark Bavarian beers; very malt forward and balanced, with a quite complex bouquet of toasty, caramelized, sweet malty goodness.  I also got hints of grain and some earthy scents.  This glass in my hand was beckoning me with its tantalizing smell.  Time to embrace my German roots and try this celebratory beer.
Now, generally I have some qualms with your typical Märzen.  At times I’ll think it too light, too watery, too lacking of any real character.  This OktoberFaust most certainly did not have those problems.  First and foremost, there was a big malt flavor, somewhat similar to a Bock in flavor, but sweeter than usual.  The finish and mouth-feel on it were quite clean and crisp, extremely refreshing.  After a few tastes, you start to get some hop bitterness, just enough to liven up the taste buds and kick the complexity into a new dimension.
Overall, this beer has done more to improve my view on Oktoberfest-style Märzens than nearly any other I’ve tried.  It knew when to perfect its strong points, and it knew when to break from the mold.  A real treat, but unfortunately not something that will be around forever.  Oktoberfest comes just once a year, and along with it is some great beer.