I’m lucky to have the opportunity to try so many excellent and interesting brews, but I’m far luckier to have good family and good friends . . . and they spoil me. One of many acts of generosity was the gift of a beer of the month club subscription, actually two such gifts running back to back. [I told you they spoil me!] I’ll be reporting on these over the next six months. The first shipment was a great start, all new to me and all keepers!
This is a Flemish red ale from Brouwerij Rodenbach. The label states “aged in oak vats” and specifies “75% ‘young’ ale, 25% ale matured for two years.” The brewing process features lactobacillus bacteria as well as yeast. That’s a different approach in my limited experience.
Pours as a dark reddish amber with a mild head and a collar that leaves faint lacing on the glass. The nose surprised me with a strong but pleasant sour note, hard to place, and then a trace of vanilla opening into more complexity as the temperature rises. On the tongue, the first impression is the same sourness, still hard to place, with maltiness coming in and hints of apple. All of a sudden it came to me, that sourness was like a good fruit vinegar on a salad. OK, OK, the beer isn’t like a salad! Then a toastiness creeps in, and I realize there’s a backbone of oak to this brew, similar to an oaked chardonnay. On the finish, the sourness drifts toward tart apple and lingers there. This is very smooth, and wine-like in mouth feel, but you would never want a wine this sour! As a beer, and with food, this works well, but you have to have a taste for sour ale.
Standing Wave Pale Ale
Pours medium amber with a head like a lemon meringue pie. The head persists, laces the glass, and then remains as a ring. The hops hit the nose right away, strongly, on the citrus side with a woodsy note, followed by caramel. They continue to predominate on the palette over a malty, toffee body and more citrus. Hops remain dominant through a long finish like a strong IPA rather than a pale ale. This went very well with Jarlsberg on crackers and with horseradish cheddar.
Pours a crystal clear straw color with a generous bright white head (a little too generous for my pouring skills, though I kept it in the glass). Very light and crisp with a citrus hint, an herbal touch like a sauvignon blanc, then a gentle pool of malted grain, and a faintly metallic touch of hops on the end. There’s a buttery sensation in the mouth feel with a mild but distinct yeasty lager bite; those who favor ales may find this harder to approach. This is a German pilsener/pilsner dating to 1911, from a brewery dating back to 1858. In a craft beer world where ten years is established and twenty years is the Old Guard, the real long timers give a touch of humility. Nice summery quaff, easy to pair with food though too light for BBQ.
Mustang Route 66 American Lager
You don’t find me drinking many straight lagers, as opposed to Belgian and Pilsner lagers, but I like this one. Normal amber in the glass with no head and almost no foam, leaving a small ring of bubbles around the glass. The first touch on the nose is herbal, resolving into caramel and then walking into a bakery. On the palate it’s primarily malty, again with caramel, and more sweetness than I’m used to in a lager. Very little hops at first and then a touch on the end with a persistent caramel finish. I think this is my favorite lager so far this year.
Mustang is a resilient company, and it had to be. No sooner had they purchased their first brewhouse, than an Oklahoma twister blew it away, lock, stock, and nearly-mature beer. That was just a year ago, but their new brewhouse is up and running, and this bottle tells me that it’s running well.