Guadalupe Brewing Company (New Braunfels, TX): Texas Honey Ale, Scotch Ale, Belgian-Style Texas Honey Ale, Cherry Sour

I contacted Guadalupe Brewing Company after searching for local breweries in my area, and asked them if they would be interested in getting some reviews for their beer. Anna Kilker wrote me back and invited me to an open house they were having at their brewery, so I could come out and do just that. I took along a friend, and we made the drive up to New Braunfels, Texas, to see what Guadalupe had to offer. Like many other small breweries, they are located in a bit of an industrial park, in a small warehouse space, with a nice field next door. We showed up, introduced our selves, got a few drink tickets and some glasses and proceeded to look around. Before long I found Keith and talked with him for a bit, and he introduced me to Guadalupe’s new head brewer Ryan Bishop, who proceeded to take us back to the cooler and pour us some great beers that weren’t being offered yet! Overall it was a great experience with a bunch of grounded people, and I hope they do really well as a brewery.

About the Brewery (from guadalupebrew.com/home.html#about):
Inspired by Beer focused trips to Europe and the US Pacific North West, a dream was born back in 2009. After home-brewing, graduating from Siebel’s Brewing Technology program and hands on brewing in a Colorado brew pub we opened our business in 2011. Our passion and focus: Providing the best quality beer available adding local ingredients whenever possible such as our Honey from an Amish community in Beeville and Wheat from Marion, Texas. Our heart: Stewardship in the form giving part of our proceeds to projects directly impacting Texas such as our funds to the Bee research program at Texas A&M and sustainability of Texas Wildlife. Owned by Native Texan Keith Kilker and his Wife Anna we toast to the great state of Texas. Prost!

Guadalupe Brewing Company, New Braunfels, TX
Guadalupe Brewing Company, New Braunfels, TX

 

Texas Honey Ale

About the Beer (from guadalupebrew.com):
Golden honey colored with a creamy white head. Incredibly crisp as it enters your mouth turning into a creamy, smooth, and honey flavored ending. Texas honey is used in this gem with part of the proceeds benefiting Texas A&M Bee Research

Style: Golden Ale with Honey
ABV: 7.32

 

TEXAS HONEY ALE is Guadalupe Brewing Company’s flagship beer, and I can understand why. It’s light, it’s pale, it’s refreshing, it’s… somewhat plain. It’s not an American Adjunct Lager, but it’s not really a horribly far step away, if you were not one that regularly drinks craft beer. I can see THA being a beer that you could serve to your Budweiser drinking friends without them making fun of you for being a beer geek… at least, until the saw the bottle and understood just how much more complex and more refined a beer it really is. Head brewer Ryan Bishop asked me what I thought of the THA, and I had to be honest, so I told him: it’s not my favorite beer Guadalupe makes, by far. He posed a challenging statement: “it’s better in the bottle.” That’s not something you often hear about beer; many a drinker will extol the virtues of draft over bottled any day of the week. So this intrigued me, and when he offered to send me home with a bottle to be able to try it again, I was willing to give it a second chance.

Texas Honey Ale in a itsy-bitsy taster cup
Texas Honey Ale in a itsy-bitsy taster cup

THA pours a bright golden, almost (fittingly) honey-like color with a bright white creamy head. On the draft, the head was gone rapidly and left no afterthought, but in the bottle I found it to be much more persistent, and left behind decent lacing. With the draft pour, a sniff the THA really just reminded me of your average AAL. Nothing special. Nothing much there at all, really. From the bottle the honey made a much more obvious appearance in the bouquet, with an almost lager-like ester following it up. While still pretty mild and reserved overall, the aroma also brings some bright malt sweetness out of the bottle that was missing on tap.

On tap, the flavor is not nearly as syrup as I expected from a beer with “honey” in its name. Mostly what I got was light golden ale flavor; a little bite that reminded me more of astringency than hops, and that was about it. From the bottle, THA pours with a dose of candy up front, followed by a bit of zesty bitterness, and then exits on the sweet note again. It truly is much nicer in the bottle, and maybe the time sitting in the confinement of the glass allows the flavors to meld, or maybe its better with age, or maybe it just doesn’t work as well on tap… I don’t know. I do know that Ryan was right. Both ways, tap and bottle, THA is a very thin, sparkling beer with light carbonation that tickles the tongue.

Texas Honey Ale in the bottle
Texas Honey Ale in the bottle

Overall, THA is a very easily drinkable beer that hides it’s over 7% ABV very well. It would make for a nice it’s-a-hot-day-on-the-porch beer, as long as you didn’t (easily) overdo it, and fall and hurt yourself getting out of the rocker. While I really am not a fan on tap, it does shine a lot brighter in the bottle. THA is still not my favorite of Guadalupe’s brews, but I enjoyed it a lot more at home than I did out on the town. I think this is a beer that will continue to serve GBC very well, and will probably continue to be its most popular brew for a long time for that fact that it can be enjoyed by both your friends that like craft beer (“It’s a local beer made with Texas honey!”) and your friends that don’t know shit about beer (“It’s yellow and has alcohol!”), which makes it a really useful brew to have on hand.

 

Overall 3.5 / 10 on tap, 6 / 10 in the bottle

Brewery site: http://www.guadalupebrew.com

Beer page: http://www.guadalupebrew.com/home.html#beers

 

 

Scotch Ale

About the Beer (from guadalupebrew.com):
Beautiful rich mahogany with off white head. Some of the best grain available out of the UK builds this striking malt backbone. Aged on American Oak the aroma and flavor are mind blowing.

Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 8.17

 

The GBC SCOTCH ALE is the beer that made me perk up and pay attention to GBC. I’ve been a fan of Scotch Ales for years, and I think it’s a style that doesn’t get the play it deserves. For the uninitiated, Beeradvocate.com describes Scotch Ale as “traditionally go[ing] through a long boil in the kettle for a caramelization of the wort. This produces a deep copper to brown in colored brew. Compared to Scottish Ales, they’ll be sweeter and fuller-bodied, and of course higher in alcohol, with a much more pronounced malty caramel and roasted malt flavor. A low tea-like bitterness can be found in many examples.” Traditionally Scotch Ales are low on hops because, well, hops just don’t grow very well in Scotland. This makes this style a weird pick as one of my favorites, because I like hops… I really like hops. And this has close to none as a style, and the GBCSA has a very low hop bill for sure. But yet there’s something about this style that just speaks to me, and GBC’s take on the style really caught my eye.

Some of the tanks at GBC... C3PO and R2D2.
Some of the tanks at GBC… C3PO and R2D2.

The GBCSA pours a ruby, rusty, copper color, which is a bit lighter than most of the Scotch Ales I’m acquainted with. From a distance, most of the Scotch Ales I’ve had look like a porter or a stout, and it is only on closer inspection of the thin body and easy of light penetration that it becomes obvious this isn’t a heavy beer. The GBCSA is almost a deep crimson-purple, but not nearly ask inky as many I’ve had. The head on the GBCSA is off-white, and recedes somewhat rapidly, but leaves behind nice lacing. Taking the goblet to my nose, I get a heavy malt profile, with some sweetness and some roast to it. It’s obvious that this beer is not a “roasted” beer or a rauchbier, but that peaty, roast malt flavor comes through on the fragrance.

Tasting the GBCSA, I got up front that Scotch Ale peaty malty goodness, but then it was followed by a flavor I haven’t had often with this style: heavy sweetness. Don’t misinterpret me: it’s not sickly sticky sweet or saccharine, but it is a lot sweeter than any other Scotch Ale I’ve had. Head brewer Bishop put this attribute to the UK malt that was used in the brew, and I like it. A lot. A lot a lot a lot. This may be my new favorite brew in a style that I really enjoy but don’t find enough examples of to get a really good handle on. The sweetness is a really nice compliment and balance to that almost-smoked by not quite smoky peat flavor of the Scotch Ale. I find this different in a really good way (but maybe that’s because I just haven’t been able to sample enough Scotch Ales with good UK malt in them).

Guadalupe Scotch Ale
Guadalupe Scotch Ale

On the tongue, this beer has a very sexy velvety feel, and it coats the mouth with silk. I love the body on this beer, and it makes me want to drink more and more. GBCSA is nicely carbonated without being overly so, and I can both enjoy sipping this one or taking a big swig without having to let out a giant burp after. The GBCSA would probably be most at home on a crisp autumn evening or even a cold winter night (as cold as it gets in New Braunfels), but for my money I could drink this all day long, even on a hot south Texas summer day. Overall just a really nice example of a style that gets left out of the beer party all too often; thanks GBC for letting this guy shine.

 

Overall 8 / 10

Brewery site: http://www.guadalupebrew.com

Beer page: http://www.guadalupebrew.com/home.html#beers

 

 

Belgian-Style Texas Honey Ale

About the Beer (from untappd.com/GuadalupeBrewing/beer):
Golden Honey color with a creamy white head. Incredibly crisp as it enters your mouth turning into a creamy, smooth, Plum esters and Honey flavored ending. Texas Honey is used in this gem with part of the proceeds benefiting Texas A&M Bee Research.

Style: Belgian Golden Ale
ABV: 7.75

 

I was a bit intrigued when I heard about this beer. This is the THA, but with the revision of Belgian yeast for the original. GBC presents this as a Dubbel, but I really find it much more in line with a Tripel with the color, body, and flavor it presents. It is interesting what a small substitution will make to a recipe, and this BELGIAN-STYLE TEXAS HONEY ALE is a great example of that.

Pouring the BSTHA I am greeted with a beautifully golden, unfiltered nectar with a bright white head. The effervescent top faded pretty quickly, and left behind much less lacing than I expected for a Belgian-style beer, but as this is truly the THA in a monk’s robe, and it was again on draft, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I CAN NOT wait to get a chance to try this beer in the bottle, and with how much better the regular THA was, I expect the BSTHA to scramble my brains. Taking a drag of the aroma, I get dry, crisp Belgian esters and some sweet malt body backing it up. I didn’t get much of the honey, but I also didn’t get much of the honey from the draft THA either.

Belgian-Style Texas Honey Ale
Belgian-Style Texas Honey Ale

Taking that first sip, the Belgian yeast profile is immediately apparent, and it overpowers the THA body it is riding on. Which, for me, is most definitely a good thing. The BSTHA is just so much more complex and rich in flavor than the beer it started as, and I would take this one over the THA any day of the week. Once the initial ester flavor mellows out, there are nice fruity notes – almost a hefe-like banana, and some other bright fruits – and the honey makes more of an appearance in the BSTHA (on tap) than it did in the THA. Again, if I had this beer in front of me and was asked “it’s a Belgian, what style is it?” I would put it squarely in the Tripel category, but it is not quite a Tripel either. It’s its own thing; BSTHA kind of defies characterizing, and I’m always down for something different.

Guadalupe's upcoming bomber selection
Guadalupe’s upcoming bomber selection

The body of the beer also reminds me of a Tripel; BSTHA is smooth and creamy and not-quite-velvety, much like many golden Belgian beers, but yet it has a bit more fizz to it and a bit different mouthfeel because of that honey base that goes into it. I can’t say that I’ve had a blonde Belgian beer with honey in it before… Ranger Creek’s LA BESTIA AIMIABLE is a strong dark Belgian with honey, but as far as “true” Belgian beers I don’t know of any with this addition. I think it’s a Texas thing! While the BSTHA is pretty easily drinkable, it does start to pick up on the backend and get a bit heavier. I think I could down a couple pretty easily, but then that would probably be it, especially with its high alcohol content. Overall, I really enjoy this beer and I love the fact that you can get two different beers from GBC that show what a big difference a small change can make.

 

Overall 7 / 10

Brewery site: http://www.guadalupebrew.com

Beer page: none

 

 

Cherry Sour

About the Beer…
No description. This was an experimental brew that may or may not make it into production as a seasonal.

Style: Wild Ale
ABV: 9.2

 

At the GBC open house, there were a bunch of taps with a bunch of beers that I had seen before; SCOTCH ALE, TEXAS HONEY ALE, Americano Wheat, Rye IPA, etc. My pal Manny and I were walking around, drinking the regular beers, and we kept hearing murmurs about “the sour” but did not see anything like that. Then there was one tap outside that just said “seasonal.” I asked the tap jockey what was in that one, and it was a Ginger Lime Sour, so immediately we were interested. We got pours of that one, and it was a pretty different experience. Not my favorite of the day for sure, but it would be awesome with some Asian food. Talking a bit later with Ryan Bishop, he mentioned that was the first of three sours they were going to roll out for sampling that day, and it would be followed by a Cherry Bourbon Sour, and finally a Prickly Pear Agave Sour. Music to my ears. Being the impatient jerks that we are, Ryan took us back to the cooler to get a sample of the as-of-yet exhumed CHERRY SOUR.

Cherry Sour, in the cold room
Cherry Sour, in the cold room

GBC, I implore you: make this beer. Keg this beer. Bottle this beer. Shit, just put some out on your doorstep and tell me when it will be there, and I promise it will be gone next time you look. I absolutely loved the CS. Loved it. This would be the sour I would use to introduce my more timid friends to sour beers. The beer coursed out of the tap with a deep brownish-red (which actually evoked to me the color of both cherries and bourbon, so nice little synchronicity there) with a pretty decent head that actually sticks around a while and laces. Most sours have little to no head or carbonation, and what little cap they do wear usually is gone in moments and leaves behind no evidence; the CS has a decent top and when it’s gone, there is lacing to remind you that it was there. This is really a mild sour, in both taste and style: it is certainly sour, but not puckeringly so, and body and mouthfeel wise it is much closer to a “regular” beer than what most sours present, again making it a good way in for those first trying this not-too-common (but becoming more so, thankfully) style of beer. When you smell the beer it is so what is in it; “cherries and bourbon all day” I wrote in my notes. The sour aspect makes an appearance in the aroma as well, but again a bit more reserved than many other beers in the style.

I savored this beer. I wanted more. I wanted to sip on it all day and all night, and if it were legal to do so, put some in a to-go cup to take home with me. Man, I wish I had a growler and unrestricted access to the cold room! The flavor of CS hits you upfront with something unexpected: sweetness. Yes, this is a sweet and sour beer. There is a sweet cherry flavor on the tip of the tongue, followed by a hit of the bourbon, and then a essence that it took me a while to put my finger on: chocolate. More specifically, mocha. The profile of this beer is almost like eating chocolate covered strawberries while sipping on a glass of Jim Beam, and it’s awesome. Then, after that initial surprising sweetness fades, on the exit you get that sour that I personally am a huge fan of. CS is very reserved in its sour profile, but it is most certainly a sour beer. I wonder with some further aging if that sour would become a bit more prevalent, which would make me even happier. I wish I had a bottle to stick in my cellar to test this theory.

Cheers from me to you, from the cold room at GBC!
Cheers from me to you, from the cold room at GBC!

The body of the beer is pretty smooth and rich, as one would expect from something that tastes like cherries and chocolate and bourbon. The carbonation is a bit more pronounced than most sours I’m used to, and it is a little less zesty and more redolent than most beers of the style. Many sour beers have just a few bubbles, and they are tiny and prickly; CS has a more conspicuous carbonation profile that would help it be that good intro beer to sours, as body-wise it is much closer in line with a heavier beer than a wild ale. Also along with that, this is a pretty drinkable beer, and does not really build a deep sourness on the palate as you drink more of it, which means you can drink more of it! I would drink as much of it as GBC wants to send me (hint hint!), and I think this would be an extremely popular seasonal, especially among the true beer geek crowd. Very nicely done.

 

Overall 8.5 / 10

Brewery site: http://www.guadalupebrew.com

Beer page: none

Advertisements

One thought on “Guadalupe Brewing Company (New Braunfels, TX): Texas Honey Ale, Scotch Ale, Belgian-Style Texas Honey Ale, Cherry Sour

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s