By Patruus Inebrius
From mild session beers to a pucker-inducing Gose, Charleston area beers were on the tasting menu this evening (as well as a very well done mac and cheese bar and pickle chips). It was also unusual in that the majority of the beers were served from cans, rather than the bottles we typically see at Brewmasters events.
Danny Baker from Advintage Distributing brought six regional brews to get us . . . hopping. Sorry, I really should get some help for those puns. We sampled ones from Westbrook Brewing Co., Coast Brewing Company, and Freehouse Brewery.
To the beers!
The first up was Westbrook Brewing Co.’s White Thai. A Belgian witbier style, this light yellow, somewhat cloudy beer had a straightforward light taste, a crisp and simple finish, and had strong citrus notes with a spice that lingered for a bit. It’s definitely one of those beers that you can use as an all-day session beer. Low alcohol, clean flavor, and easy to drink.
From the Westbrook website:
5% ABV 16 IBU
This beer, inspired by the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine, is a twist on the classic Belgian witbier style. Instead of the traditional coriander and orange peel spicing regimen, we add fresh lemongrass, ginger root, and a dash of Sorachi Ace hops. The result is a wonderfully refreshing ale with notes of lemon candy, citrus fruit, and a slight spiciness from the ginger. Best served at 45˚F in a tulip or wine glass.
Availability: Draft & 12oz cans
First released: December 20, 2010
Ever feel like an event organizer is trying to punk you? We definitely got that vibe when trying the second beer of the night, though we should have been tipped off from the fact that the evening’s appetizer was fried pickle chips.
Westbrook Brewing Co. has produced their own interpretation of a Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”) beer. This is a fairly rare style of beer that few have experienced.
As the beers were handed out, we were told to wait, wait, wait and that everyone should taste it at the same time. The evening’s organizers seemed almost giddy with anticipation about how people would react. Having already gotten a heads up from my table mates, I knew what to expect.
Gose is a sour beer. And salty.
It’s not that it’s gone bad. It’s intentionally sour. And Westbrook’s interpretation of it relies on taking the traditional sour and salty notes of the Gose and concentrating it to the point of making lemons jealous.
The Gose is a very light yellow beer and has very intense flavor that lingers and lingers.
Reactions were fairly polarized, though probably a bit less dramatic than the organizers hoped. Comments heard around the room included “Has it gone bad?” “Oh this is definitely a hipster beer.” “I shouldn’t have poured so much in my glass.” “Eh, it’s ok. Not something I’d go out and buy, but in the right circumstance . . . “ and “Can I pour it back into the can?”
To me it tasted very much like the aged Green Man Demon Dweller from the homebrew guys night a couple of weeks back. That brew had turned sour accidentally. The Gose does it on purpose.
So it’s an acquired taste. Probably not their best seller and apparently this style of beer nearly went extinct. Nearly.
From the Westbrook website:
4% ABV 5 IBU
This is our interpretation of Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”), a traditional German-style sour wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt. Once nearly extinct, this very refreshing style is making a comeback.
First Released: April 2012
Availability: Draft and 22oz bottles
Next up was Coast Brewing Company’s Kolsch. Coast is one of the older brewers in South Carolina and they pride themselves on sourcing organic ingredients for most of their beers. For the 32/50 Kolsch (where the numbers correspond to the latitude of Charleston and this recipe’s original city of Cologne) Coast managed to source 99 percent organic ingredients.
Definitely a session type German ale, this had a very balanced, crisp and hoppy flavor that didn’t linger. Light honey, fruit, bread and hop notes. Very mildly bitter. It’s a low alcohol beer and gets a 92 rating at Beeradvocate. (I ended up going to Beeradvocate for some information as Coast is currently redesigning their website.)
Coast Brewing Company’s colorful Hopart IPA can was handed out next. This much darker, amber-colored and malty IPA has a strong hops flavor and bitterness with caramel notes and a lingering wood/pine flavor as the finish. Others reported a grapefruit note, but I didn’t taste that one.
This one was sourced as 97 percent organic. Not entirely sure where those other three percent went, but hey, they tried. Overall, this is a nice, medium body IPA though it finishes a bit more on the bitter side.
Ashley Farmhouse Organic Saison
The final beer of the evening came in large wine bottles. Freehouse Brewery’s Ashley Farmhouse Organic Saison is a Belgian, dry saison beer. It is also certified as organic by both the USDA and Clemson University.
It appears to be a very mild and light beer, though it is 6.1 percent ABV. Overall, a light fruit and spice note from orange peel, flaked rye and ginger used in making it. Very enjoyable, but not particularly distinctive in flavor. But it is one I wouldn’t hesitate to serve to an audience with diverse tastes.
From the Freenhouse Brewery website:
A dry Belgian-style saison. Hazy golden hue in the traditional farmhouse brewing style. Yeast-driven fruit and tartness with mild spiciness from the flaked rye and ginger in the background. Lightly hoppy with a slight bitter finish from the bitter orange peel. Easy drinking. Great for pairing with Lowcountry cuisine, especially seafood and fried foods. The Ashley Farmhouse reflects the tradition of rustic, farmhouse brewing that inspires Freehouse Brewery today, and is named for the Ashley River where the brewery is located.
Ingredients: Organic malted barley, organic flaked rye, organic spices, organic hops, Farmhouse ale yeast.
Another great Brewmasters completed! June promises to bring another brewery with several from their own line.