The odd, the rare, and the unusual.
Well it has been almost two months since my beer tour of Dallas, but I’m happy to report that I had a bit of Texas come to me, in the form of my former unofficial tour guide, Airon. He flew in to Minnesota to see some of the new beers, taprooms, and venues that have cropped up in the last two years or so.
Of course he brought beer and many Minnesotans generously sent him home with more beer, but one epic beer evening took place at my kitchen table and revolved around three unusual beers : Jester King Atrial Rubicite, Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend, and Fraoch Heather Ale No. 22. Three beers from three countries, all of which stood to astound our palates.
credit: Jester King
A lot of beer buzz in the south is a result of the interesting and unique beer produced by Jester King. They produce a fairly wide variety of beer but have become known primarily for their farmhouses and sours. In their first addition of fruit to a beer, several hundred pounds of raspberries were rather forcibly introduced to a barrel-aged sour beer like a scene out of a very specific episode of Dexter.
This is the first beer I have seen for which pH is listed as a statistic: “Atrial Rubicite is made from well water, barley, wheat, hops, farmhouse yeast, native yeast from the Texas Hill Country, souring bacteria and raspberries. It’s 5.8% alcohol by volume, has a finishing gravity of 1.005 and is 3.36 pH. It is unfiltered, unpasteurized and 100% bottle conditioned.” –Jester King
Our second act involved a Belgian beauty – 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend, a beer that is no longer in production. True traditional Geuze beer rarely makes it out of the country. In contrast to Lambic, Geuze is carbonated due to the mixing of old and new vintages to create another fermentation in the bottle.
In the case of the Golden Blend, 4 year old Lambic makes up 1/4 of the volume, the rest of the blend is compromised of some “secret” formulation of 1, 2 and 3 year old Lambic.
This beer absolutely ranks in the top 10 I have had in my life. The complexity, perfect effervescence, historical significance, and ample tartness make it world-class.
There is a definite funkiness that never reaches the off-putting level. If I ever see this beer again I’m buying it faster than you can say “expensive”.
Finally, my meager contribution to this haul was about to be enjoyed. The special version of Fraoch, which evidently never sees the state of Texas, had been in my fridge for about three weeks, waiting for its resealable top to be opened. I was waiting for the perfect occasion and obviously this was it.
According to Williams Brothers, Fraoch Vintage Cask Collaboration No. 22 is an “11% alc/vol version of our Fraoch is matured in ex-sherry casks previously used to mature Auchentoshan single malt. Brewed as an 11% Fraoch heather ale then matured in ex sherry/malt whisky casks giving a rich, creamy brew full of notes of sherry & barley wine with a wood & whisky finish”
I did not know what to expect from this gruit-style beer because of the cask aging and the heather element.
The beer was much lighter in color than I expected, but the extreme surprise was the velvety mouthfeel and weightiness achieved due to the whiskey casks from Auchentoshan.
The strong fig, vanilla, and woody notes play extremely well together and the creaminess is extreme. I don’t know that I have had many beers smoother than this in my lifetime.
This beer is not as limited as the other two that we enjoyed here in Minneapolis, but it is not available in many places. If you like sherry, whiskey, and/or fantastic beers, this is a must-try. It would also make an excellent gift and comes with a re-sealable top, so need not be enjoyed all at once (but it will be).
Our mini bottle share was a huge success with not a single disappointing moment. I paired these three beers with pepperjack cheese covered in a charred pineapple jalapeno chutney. The heat, sweetness, and slight smoke worked absolutely perfectly with the Jester King and Fraoch. It wasn’t as perfect of a match with the geuze.