What’s In My Cooler

The beer has evolved from a can your grandpa used to sip while yelling at your grandma to a drinkable hop-filled art form accented with ingredients that you would never expect. This blog is dedicated to our favorite libation and ever changing landscape of beer and beer brewing, because who says that beer has to taste a certain way to be great beer? I’ll show you what I’m enjoying, what I’m not enjoying, and some info about the brewery and the beer itself.

Rating System
No Stars: I’ll die of thirst before I drink this again
*Have a soda
**Drink it if it’s offered
***Definitely worth paying for
****Seek it out
*****Worth going out of state to get it
******I don’t care what you have to do, FIND IT AND DRINK IT.

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Grayton Beer Company – Franklin County Oyster Stout – Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Stout season is nearing an end here in Alabama, but there’s always time for one last hoorah; especially when the last hoorah is this good. I heard Grayton Beer was working on an Oyster Stout a while back, but then I guess I forgot about it and went on about my business. A few weeks later, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw a “Franklin County Stout – Oyster Stout” written on their draught listings in their taproom. Once again my interest was peaked and I desperately wanted to try it. I commented on the picture asking if the beer would be making its way to Birmingham, because we only get about two to three of their offerings at a time. Andrew, Grayton’s Birmingham rep, replied and told me to email the brewery with my question; I did and waited on a response from someone. A few days later I got an email from Andrew saying that he had a few bottles and would be willing to let me have one so that I could try the creation. So, we met up at Hop City, Andrew explained the beer in a greater detail, and then I was on my way. I took it home, threw it in the fridge, and then waited until I couldn’t stand it anymore (that same night) before I drank it. Let me tell you, this is a force to be reckoned with. Here are my thoughts:
Stout

Alright, so I know that a lot of people hear the words oyster stout and are immediately turned away. I’m here to say that you absolutely shouldn’t be, because the flavors blend so well, especially if it’s done right, and you get a beautiful bouquet of aromas that really just put you right on the coast with a platter of empty half-shells. Andrew informed me that Grayton’s head brewer, hilariously named Shank, wanted to recreate the experience of eating a raw oyster, and what better place to do that in than the Gulf Coast of Florida. Everything from the lemon, to the pepper, to the brininess is present in this one and it makes for an interesting, yet extremely enjoyable beer.

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, immediately I noticed the pitch-black color, and the thickness from when it poured. Honestly, I was nervous about how thick the beer was, because I didn’t want it to be super heavy and overwhelming, because that I didn’t want this to falsely represent the experience of eating oysters. The aroma was one of the most complex areas of the beer, because like I stated earlier, you pick up some lemon and some peppery notes. It was one of those moments where you close your eyes and you can actually picture yourself in a different setting, but in a beer and you’re in your living room… you get the idea.

The flavor aspect of this beer drops a bomb on your taste buds. Seriously, Andrew wasn’t joking when he said that they had simulated the experience of eating oysters. Upfront you get a lot of that classic stout flavor, coffee and some roasted maltiness, but then you start to get notes of lemon and a slight salty brininess that instantly puts the thought of saltwater in your mind. Towards the end of each sip, you get a little bit of a peppery burn on the back of your tongue that makes it just that more addictive. With all of these complex and nontraditional flavors from the oyster-like additions, it shouldn’t be overlooked that there is a great stout base here that allows everything to build off of those core flavors that everyone is used to. Nothing is too overpowering here and the flavors are all pretty mild which makes for an extremely easy to drink stout. That’s probably for the best, because it gets hot as Hell in Grayton during the summer, but I wouldn’t have a problem throwing back a few of these at sunset.

The mouthfeel of the beer continues the streak of excellence and takes those great flavors to the next level. The carbonation level is on point and could not have been better; any more and it would have been too rough on the tongue and any less and it would have felt uncarbonated. A velvety feeling on the tongue and a nice bit of foam towards the end of each sip make it really smooth and easy going. I would even go as far to say that it has a nice dry finish with a little more of that brininess, albeit faint, on the back of your tongue mixed with a little black pepper. This beer is something special on so many levels.

Overall, this is something that needs more attention, because of the beautiful craftsmanship that went into making it. From taking almost every aspect of eating a raw oyster and then turning it into a briny, peppery bottle of malted goodness, the Franklin County Oyster Stout blends a plethora of magical flavors into something you really have to taste to believe. Lucky for us, Grayton is releasing some bottles at Hop City in Birmingham very soon, so, I suggest everyone take a trip up and grab a four-pack before they’re gone, because you do not want to miss out on this.

If you would like more information on Grayton Beer, visit their website here.
Rating: *****

Red Brick Brewing Co. – Hoplanta IPA – Atlanta, GA

Creature Comforts Tap Room

Creature Comforts Tap Room. Athens, GA

Recently I took a trip to Atlanta to see my friend Thomas and to take a trip to Athens. I know I can always look forward to a lot of laughs and a lot of time spent drinking good beer. Our main goal was to take a trip to Athens to check out Terrapin and another brewery called Creature Comforts. If you’ve never heard of them, believe me, you will soon. Their brewery/taproom is beautiful; reclaimed wood everywhere and it’s housed in what used to be an old tire shop in a downtown section of Athens. Anyways, after our trek to bulldog country, I knew I had to make a stop at one of my favorite beer stores to grab some supplies before I made it back to Alabama. Green’s always has a great selection of local beer from the area and sometimes, we even get the stuff in Alabama too. This time I picked up a six-pack of Red Brick’s Hoplanta IPA. I love Red Brick probably more than I like Sweetwater. All of their beers just taste better, and really, I find that when I drink a Red Brick beer it’s more sessionable, regardless of style, than any of Sweetwater’s brews. Here are my thoughts on the Hoplanta IPA from Red Brick:
Hoplanta IPAFirst of all, Red Brick has recently gone under a rebranding and it is loads better than what it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, the labels were fun, but that plain Jane labeling style is only fun for so long. The new and improved branding is much more up to date and much more colorful. Here’s a side-by-side of the old versus the new:
Hoplanta labelsAnyways, lets get down to business. I don’t want to jump to assumptions, but I believe the six-pack I got may have been a little old. When I poured, there was almost zero carbonation present. After the quarter of a finger width of white, frothy foam settled, it left a think splotchy film on top of the beer with some thin lacing around the glass. The color was about par for the course for an IPA; a slightly hazy amber color with some more lighter orange colors reaching the outer edges of the glass. The aroma is very nice, as with most Red Brick beers; strong in the way of citrus fruits mixed in with some pine notes as well as some bread-like malts that kind of brought it all together.

The taste of this beer is East Coast all the way, because of very strong citrus flavors and a powerful backbone of caramel and malt. Upfront you get a lot of caramel notes which soon fade after the hop character arrives on the back of your tongue and moves forward slowly. You get a lot of hop bitterness, but not as much of the citrus bitterness as I would like. See, here’s my dilemma, I really like some beers that rely on the hops to get your bitterness, but at the same time, I really love when beers can showcase the citrus and provide the beers entire bitterness from a wide variety of citrus fruits. Either way, this one has a lot of hop bitterness toward the back end of the beer. Finally, it finishes with a little bit of an alcohol burn, which is surprising considering it’s only a little over six and a half percent. Going on taste alone, I would be willing to say that Red Brick has Sweetwater beat across the board. I think there’s a fine line you cross on production for when you begin to lose flavor in exchange for more bottles filled. Red Brick has tons of great beers on its roster and this one is no different.

The mouthfeel on this one was a slight letdown for me. Again, like I stated earlier, I could just have an older batch and that could be the reasoning for everything. There was almost zero carbonation detected through the whole beer and even on my tongue it felt uncarbonated. This was a pretty big bummer, and I know that I’m a snob for carbonating just right, but I want a little bit of something there to remind me it’s a beer. The beer feels slightly thick on the palate and a little heavy on the stomach as well. I definitely don’t think I could drink multiples of this one and be good to go. Either way, the mouthfeel did not accentuate the beer in any way and it actually made for somewhat of a disappointing ending to each drink.

Overall, I just hope this was a bad bottle and not what the fine people over at Red Brick intended for me to drink. The flavor was great, but I think the age of the beer was what killed it for me. I hope that we’re getting better stuff in Alabama and not this under carbonated lesser of an IPA that I drank. Although, I’ve had this beer before and it’s been better. Keeping that in mind, I will absolutely buy this one again and again. Support the smaller guys out there and give them a chance. I can’t wait to make it back to Atlanta and the Red Brick tap room again so I can try something else wild and possibly find a new favorite, but more importantly, get a fresh Hoplanta that I know is up to code.

If you would like more information on Red Brick Brewing Co., visit their website here.
Rating: ***

Terrapin Beer Co. – Mosaic Red Rye IPA – Athens, GA.

I’ve come to realize that I’m a seasonal drinker. I like hoppier beers in the warmer weather and maltier beers in the colder weather. So, seeing as how we’ve recently been having some nice 75-degree days, I decided to break out something a little more suitable. Terrapin has been one of my favorite southern breweries for a minute because of their ability to get some really awesome flavors into beers that have been basically ran into the ground. Using rye in IPA style beers makes them somewhat more refreshing to me and I may be the only person that thinks that, because I know a lot of people that would say that it makes the beer a bit heavier and unsessionable. With that in mind, I cracked open a can of Terrapin’s Red Rye India Pale Ale named Mosaic. Here are my thoughts:
Mosaic Red Rye IPATerrapin is now putting a portion of their beers in cans, which I am a big fan of. I prefer for beers to be in cans for multiple reasons, but mainly because of the preservation of the beer. It’s also more recyclable than other containers, but enough about packaging, let’s get to the beer.

The beer poured a deep amber color with about half of a finger width of off-white head. Retention was about average and left some decent lacing as it dissolved. The aroma was absolutely fantastic; filled with tons of rye and awesome notes of hop resin. More specifically, you get a ton of the Mosaic hop scent (hence the name of the beer.) It’s crazy that you get that much of a hop scent that is so powerful from one hop. I also got a little bit of caramel and some fruity notes as well that leveled everything out to a nice blended aroma. This is one thing that Terrapin really does well, because regardless if it’s in the form of French Toast for the French Toast Wake N Bake, or something simple like a basic Pale Ale, Terrapin really knows how to pack in the aroma as well as the flavor.

The flavor of this beer is a bit of an oddball to me. When I first began drinking, the beer was much colder and the flavors really popped, but as the beer warmed, I began to taste less and less of that great flavor that I was picking up in the beginning. On the front end, you’re hammered with a ton of malt flavor with a bit of caramel. After that passes, about midway through, you start to pick up a little of the rye flavors. This is where I got a little bummed, because I really would have loved to have more of the rye in the beer that’s named a Red Rye IPA. Aside from the lack of rye, you get some fruity bitterness towards the backend and as you finish the sip, you get a lot of that Mosaic hop bitterness. Though when that bitterness shows up, you really just get it on the back of your tongue and then it’s gone. A bit of a bummer, but the flavor wasn’t bad. I would drink this again, but I would have to do it quickly so that I could enjoy all of the flavors that the beer has to offer.

Mouthfeel on this one is like pure velvet. It is so silky and smooth, and really so much different than a lot of IPA style beers I’ve encountered. I’m not sure if I liked that aspect, because I found myself wanting a little more carbonation in some sips, but others I was perfectly content on the lack thereof. The beer doesn’t set very heavy on your stomach, so I could easily see myself drinking a few of these on a hot day, but after a few, I could see it being a little much because of the 6.2% ABV. Have fun but not too much, because it will sneak up on you.

Overall, this was a pretty decent beer. Not something I would choose over other things, but it’s something that’s pretty decent for the style. I really wish the aromas had carried over into the flavor a little more so it could have been a little more refreshing. The aroma was really the highlight of the beer, and for Terrapin, that’s about par for the course, although some of their beers really pack the punch with the flavor as well. The beer as a whole was good, but like I said, nothing I’m going to rush out and buy again. Don’t let that stop you from trying it though. Keep drinking new beer and even if something isn’t good to you now, revisit it in a few months. I’ll probably take my own advice and try this again in a few weeks so I can really decide how I feel about it. Cheers!

If you would like more information on Terrapin Beer Co., visit their website here.
Rating: ***

Funky Buddha Brewery – Hop Gun IPA – Oakland Park, FL.

There are certain types of beer than can just get ran into the ground with generic recipes culminating into a basic end result. Over and over, I get told about a new IPA from some pop-up brewery and how it’s changed someone’s life. Truth is, most of them are just simple IPA beers, but they’re all still pretty tasty. Less often, there are beers that really make you step back and appreciate the greatness of a well-crafted IPA. There’s a brewery near Ft. Lauderdale, FL. that I have been wanting to try for a while and one of the main reasons is their ability to create recipes that pack serious flavors. Funky Buddha is known for their odd flavor combinations, like their Maple Bacon Coffee Porter that’s basically breakfast in a beer, but they’re also known for having a knack for creating great beers that fall into the realm of traditional beers. In my swap, Dave included the Hop Gun IPA, a beer that’s rated fairly well on Beer Advocate. I was very happy he included one of these so that I could finally try out something from this highly regarded brewery. Here are my thoughts:
Hop GunFirst off, the artwork on the bottle is pretty fun. Hop Gun, Top Gun, you get it; so the artwork follows along with that theme with a fighter jet launching hop cones towards you. It’s pretty funny and compliments the brief description of the beer which you could tell someone had a fun time writing. Also, something else that doesn’t affect the beer in any way, but just caught my eye was the shape of Funky Buddha’s labels. Nothing traditional here and I love it. Anyways, back to the beer.
Hop Gun LabelI prepared my phone to take a photo and immediately after I pried off the cap, it began to foam over very quickly onto my cutting board. Something I noticed about the foam is that it wasn’t very thin, because all of the foam collected into a pile and just began to build upward rather than outward. This gave me the initial thought that the beer could be somewhat thick and consequently kind of heavy. After I cleaned up the foam and got the beer into a glass, I noticed about a finger-width of off-white foam that fizzled out fairly quickly (about 5-10 seconds). After settling for a moment, I noticed a deep amber, orange-ish color that wasn’t very hazy, but not completely clear. As the beer settled you could begin to see some nice lacing around the sides of the glass even before I had taken the first sip. The aroma was beautiful; there was tons of malt notes and some great pine hints mixed with some hop characters that gave off a bit of citrus aroma, which I love. It didn’t smell as hoppy and dank as a lot of other IPAs, but one thing is kind of consistent with South Florida IPA beers and that’s the caramel overload rather than the hop overload. It’s a refreshing take on a style that gets pile driven by hops at every turn.

The flavor is really where this one had me hooked. Upfront you get hit with more citrus and hoppy notes than the aroma led me to believe would be present. I was deceived, but I don’t mind. Mid palate, you still get some powerful notes of citrus, like pineapple and grapefruit, as well as picking up some of that malt and caramel you get from the nose. It finishes fairly dry and slightly bitter, and leaves a pine-like finish that’s accompanied by some great citrus flavors that leave the flavor stuck in your mouth. I honestly loved this quality the most because it made each more sip that much more intense. It’s like when you’re eating hot wings and each bite intensifies that heat and spice; except this was with citrus flavors and nice caramel malts and not spicy at all (thank God, I think I speak for all of us when I say I’m tired of spicy as hell beers). The flavors were just strong enough to take a burnt out style, like the IPA, and turn it into something interesting and enjoyable. I like being confused when I drink a beer from time to time, and this one certainly did. I was expecting to get a mouthful of caramel and malt, but I was surprised with citrus and pine. I love it.

The mouthfeel was about on par with a generic IPA. Carbonation was ver solid and mild. The beer rested well on the tongue and allowed the beer to be enjoyed and every aspect taken in. The body was surprisingly light and made the beer extremely sessionable. I only wish I would have had more than just one of these so I could have tested that out. I could easily see myself drinking three or four of these at a time and being able to conquer the world (or a burrito) afterwards. And for clocking it at almost 8% ABV, you really don’t get any of that back of the throat burn you get from higher alcohol beers. The drinkability of the Hop Gun is what will have me coming back more than anything, for sure.

Overall, I’m extremely surprised by this beer. It was extremely sessionable, and while it wasn’t extremely balanced, I’m okay with that. I liked that I got more malt and caramel in the aroma and more hop and citrus in the flavor. It kept me on my toes and that citrus flavor more than makes up for it. If you’re looking for a great way to start out at Funky Buddha, try this one and see what you think. I did, and I know I’ll be trying to get more of this.

If you would like more information about Funky Buddha Brewery, you can visit their website here.
Rating: ****

Due South Brewing Company – Caramel Cream Ale – Boynton Beach, FL.

Being that my validity in the beer world grows every day, my opinions and the things I write have begun to carry a little bit of meaning. Case in point, I’ve begun telling people from breweries that I write a beer review for a magazine and immediately, they begin telling me how I should visit the brewery in hopes that it will result in some easy and free publicity. Aside from that fact, I’ve also gained a little more trust with other beer writers. I recently did a swap with my new friend Dave, who authors the Florida Beer Blog, a great resource full of reviews similar to mine, information on breweries in Florida and other brew news. I recently reached out to him about doing a trade for some local beers. He was quick to agree and he came through with a great collection of things from breweries I had heard of but beers that I had never tried.14965_1047199828630747_8549272489542224054_nSo, starting out I reached for one of the more interesting beers in the mix from a brewery I had been itching to try, Due South Brewing from Boynton Beach, FL. In theory, a Caramel Cream Ale sounds extremely appetizing and in line with a lot of desert style beers, but, unfortunately, something was lost in the mix somewhere along the line, because this was a bit of a disappointment as far as I’m concerned. Here are my thoughts:
Caramel CreamA brief side note about Due South, they recently underwent a rebranding and instead of scrapping their old logo, it was refreshed into the new logo to reflect a cleaner, more up to date image. Everything is based around oceanic maps with crisp lines and clean, basic fonts. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a junkie when it comes to packaging design, and Due South’s design does not disappoint.

As I poured the beer, I instantly thought that it was much darker than other cream ales I’ve had in the past. It was more along the lines of an Amber Ale than anything, but that could just be me. There was a thick white head that developed after pouring with some nice retention (almost two minutes). The aroma was where this one got my hopes up mostly. I picked up a good bit of vanilla and some brown sugar, but mainly what I got was the strong scent of caramel malt. It really stayed true to the name, because even through the nose, I could tell the beer was going to be creamy and hopefully really nice. This about where I could have stopped.

At first taste, you get some odd, slightly stale caramel notes that don’t really mix well with a backbone of what seemed to taste basically like cream soda. Upfront I was hammered with caramel notes, both from what seemed like artificial flavoring and the malt. I also picked up on some toffee notes that really leveled out the flavor before I got some vanilla notes in the end of each sip. To be perfectly honest, there wasn’t much of a flavor after the beer hits your tongue. It just kind of levels out into a boring caramel flavor that quickly turns into nothingness. It wasn’t that it tasted bad, it just wasn’t great and I felt that all the flavors, other than the caramel, really fell short where they should have shined. If you’re looking for a darker beer that’s really easy to drink, this is your guy, because it doesn’t really have much flavor in the first place.

The mouthfeel was fairly decent and one of the few upsides to the beer other than the smell. It was a little on the heavier side which would make it a decent desert beer and the carbonation level was really nice; very light and accented the creaminess very well. If the flavor would have followed the nose more and then been paired with the body and carbonation, it would have been a homerun in my book. Unfortunately, not all great things in theory become great things in fruition.

In the end, I was sold on the idea, but the end result just wasn’t where I felt it needed to be. The flavors were lacking and it resulted in just a very bland beer that just made me say “ehh.” Had those flavors been a little stronger and a little more focused on the cream aspect instead of the caramel, it would have been much nicer and much more enjoyable. I’m not letting this one beer base my opinion on Due South Brewing, because I still have two more of their beers to try and I can’t wait to get into those. I’m sure something of theirs is bound to impress me. As for this one, unfortunately, just wasn’t it; although, I would drink it, I don’t think I would set out to buy a six pack any time soon.

If you would like more information about Due South Brewing Company, visit their website here.
Rating: **

Jester King Brewery – Wytchmaker Farmhosue Rye IPA – Austin, TX

While I was recently in Austin, Texas, my wife and I did a brewery tour of sorts. We took a day trip to Shiner, TX, where we saw the Spoetzl Brewery where Shiner is made, we visited Hops and Grain Brewery in Austin, Austin Beerkworks in Austin, and, most importantly, we visited one of the strangest and most beautiful breweries I have ever bared witness to. Situated on top of a mountain in the Texas hill country sits Jester King, a traditional farmhouse style brewery preserving the farmhouse style of brewing that has become somewhat of a lost art in this day an age. It’s not uncommon for the Jester King beer that you’re drinking to have been aging for nearly a year before it’s poured into your glass, but that’s far from the oddest thing that separates this place from all the other breweries in Austin. Jester King, as a whole, is like a mad scientist when it comes to beer, and with so much experimentation, they’re not afraid to tell you that a lot of the time, they don’t get it right. I appreciate a brewery that is upfront and honest about producing beer that may not be good or even palatable. Although, on the flip side of that, some of their beers are amazing and also amazingly handcrafted to reflect the exact intention and vision that brewers had months ago when the beer was made. With all this being said, I recently found out that Jester King is distributed in Birmingham and, honestly, this is something that everyone needs to take advantage of. I found one of the beers that weren’t available at the taproom when I was there, the Wytchmaker Farmhouse Rye IPA, so I brought it home. I chilled it for the whole day and cracked it open; here are my thoughts:WytchmakerFirst of all, before we move any further, I mentioned that the brewery was beautiful, but that description really doesn’t do it justice. See for yourself: Jester King Brewery 1 Jester King Sunset The property was gorgeous and the sunset that was beginning as soon as we got there was really the icing on the cake. The employees were super friendly and the tour was really informative as well. One of the craziest things that Jester King does differently than a lot of places is their use of a Cool Ship on cool Texas nights. Basically what the Cool Ship does is it holds the beer in a shallow stainless steel vessel, about 2 feet deep and about 12 feet squared, over night. While the beer is in the Cool Ship, the brewers open up the barn doors of the brewery and create a wind tunnel-like draft so that while the beer is resting in the Cool Ship, wild yeasts and bacteria can fall into the beer and literally have the Texas Hill Country add its own flavors and aspects to each Jester King brew. This is the type of stuff that gets beer nerds like myself excited. No one does this, and I mean no one, but anyways, back to the beer.

When I opened this beer, there wasn’t much of a noise, but as I continued to open the bottle, the beer started to foam over and exploded through the top. I wasted about a third of the bottle, but I’ve come to expect this, because the last bottle I drank did the exact same thing. The beer poured with about three finger widths of foam and a very hazy golden color. The smell is strong in the way of Brett yeast along with some citrus and grape, which probably comes from the fact that a lot of their beer is aged in old wine barrels. Another cool thing about Jester King is that they do not filter their beer so until you drink it, the beer is still fermenting with the yeast in the bottle. I bring that up because the Wytchmaker I drank was bottled in July of 2013. Here’s a great way to think about their beer: if I were to take two bottles of the same beer, drink one tonight and save the other, the other bottle would taste completely different in two weeks. That’s mind-blowing to me, and I love every bit of it.Jester King Brewery 2

The first taste that you get is pretty funky. Let’s be clear though, Farmhouse style beers are mostly sour beers, so when I saw that Jester King made a Farmhouse style IPA, I knew it would be something odd. At first taste, you pick up a lot of funky, spicy notes, but it’s not something that would turn most people away. There are some soft citrus notes along with some pine that you pick up on in the background. Midway through you start to get a lot of earthy notes, like grass and wheat, and in the end, you start to get some hints of citrus peel with some fruity bread notes as well. The overall flavor is pretty tart, much like white wine, but not as dry though. The citrus aspects give this one a nice mouthwatering quality that adds to the drinkability of the beer. As it warmed up, you could definitely pick up on some flavors of alcohol that made the back of my throat burn slightly. One thing I didn’t really get a lot of were the rye notes that I was expecting to shine through. Even as the beer warmed slightly, I still never got any of that classic rye flavor I was anticipating, but that’s okay because I don’t really like rye all that much.

Mouthfeel was superb on all levels. Since the bottle foamed over immediately after I opened it, I was expecting the beer to be like champagne and extremely carbonated, but I was wrong. It actually had a great, velvety mouthfeel that complimented the flavors nicely. Like I mentioned before, the citrus added a nice drinkability aspect to it and made it very enjoyable. Had that citrus not been there or replaced with the rye, I wouldn’t imagine being able to drink it as easily because of the tartness.

Overall, this beer was an oddball, yet a solid home run for me. Much like all Jester King beers, this is not something I would drink everyday. It’s something I’ll sip on when any other beer just seems like too much. The subtle citrus notes and the tart palate make this one an easily enjoyable beer that even people without any knowledge of sour beers can enjoy with the right amount of open mindedness. I’m so glad that I learned of Jester King’s distribution to Alabama. Hop City and some Piggly Wiggly stores usually have a few bottles and I suggest getting all of them. Prices range anywhere from $11.99 to $14.99 depending on the offering, but Wytchmaker was, I believe, $13.95 and worth every penny. This is yet again another one knocked out of the park by a brewery reviving a lost art and bringing the ancient ways of beer back into present day.

If you would like more information on Jester King Brewery, visit their website here.
Rating: ****

South Austin Brewery – Texas Pale Ale – Austin, TX

One thing that really grinds my gears is the use of craft beer as a get rich quick scheme. Mainly because you trick people into thinking that the way you make beer is the way that all craft beer is made and that your pretentious attitude is the norm for everyone in the business; although, there’s an upside to this. If you’re in it for the money, the folks who truly care about the craft quickly realize it. Birmingham has its questionable establishment, and I’m not going to point any fingers, but it’s usually the “elephant” in the room when the topic gets brought up. Let’s put it this way, if this were the early 90s, this establishment would be a martini bar, but I digress. Every city with any sort of beer boom is going to have those breweries made up of those people who want to make money, and Austin is no different. From the information I gathered through subtle hints and dropped lines, South Austin Brewery is one of the most serious offenders. I grabbed three of their beers while at a beer store in Austin, unknowingly supporting the very thing that I hate, and brought the filth back to Birmingham. When I opened the South Austin Texas Pale Ale, which I honestly thought was an IPA because of the font on the can, I was immediately turned off and knew the problem with the brewery ran deeper than the individuals who run it. Here are my thoughts:
Texas Pale Ale

As I previously stated, the can this beer was in is terribly misleading; TPA looks very similar to IPA, but let’s get it one thing straight, this is not an IPA; hell, it’s not even a good Pale Ale. Anyways, I poured it in a generic pint glass and noticed a nice golden, copper color with thick, three finger widths wide head that was foamy and tan in color. A lot of retention, about five or so minutes, but this gave me a thought of there possibly being some over-carbonation. There wasn’t any lacing on the glass as the head dissolved. The aroma was strong in the way of citrus, yeast and some malt in the background. It’s pretty fragrant, but not fragrant in the way of hops, citrus, or pine like I would expect from decent pale ales. This is honestly when the let down started to become real.

I can safely say that this is by far the most malt filled pale ale I have ever drank. There’s a bitterness that reminds me of most Belgian style beers I’ve tried, so it was honestly pretty weird. Up front, you get a lot of that malt flavor, like I said, which is then followed by a poor hop character that doesn’t even seem like the type of hops that would be in a pale ale style beer. I got no citrus, no pine, no grapefruit, and not even a bit of resin that I usually pick up in most pale ales. The flavor in this beer is poorly built and ill conceived in such a way that I am sorely disappointed in the attempt. They belong in almost every type of witbier and almost no pale ale. This was a big dud.

Mouthfeel was just a poor complement of the beer that was poor to begin with. It’s extremely over-carbonated and not refreshing. There was a scratchy quality to the beer that made it even more unpleasant. Overall, a weak quality that gives off a very stale feel that made it painful to finish. I was very close to giving this one the drain pour, but I powered through to get the full effect.

Basically, this was just bad and a poor product that I would never consider putting my name on. There had to be people that tasted this and informed them on the poor quality, but when you’re basically in it for the popularity and money, you’ll put anything out to make a little money. I understand the thought behind the Belgian influence behind the name, but this is just poor execution and poor planning on what the finished product would be. The hop selection didn’t make sense, there was entirely too much malt that didn’t fit the style, and it was just a chore to drink. This ranks up there with some of the worst beer I’ve ever drank. Sorry, South Austin Brewery, you get what you deserve, unfortunately.

If you would like more information about South Austin Brewery, you can visit their website here.
Rating: *