While in New Braunfels, I was also able to check out the Faust Brewery. Located in a historic – and supposedly haunted – hotel, Faust has been brewing up award winning ales in New Braunfels since 1998. I first met head brewer Ray Mitteldorf at an open house event for Guadalupe Brewing Co. quite a long time ago, and had been anticipating my chance to finally get to that haunted hotel and try some beer. Plus, I could actually get my wife to be excited to go with me, because she loves everything slightly related to ghosts. Win win. Ray set me up with a flight of testers, we ordered some lunch, and my day was happy.
About the Brewery (from faustbrewing.co):
The Faust Brewing Company has been open to the public since 1998 in New Braunfels, Texas, a small town renowned for its authentic German heritage and culture. The German prowess of beer drinking and beer making is legendary, and The Faust Brewing Co. continues the tradition with its original and varied line of ales.
Faust Golden Ale
About the Beer (from faustbrewing.co):
European Pilsner Malt and Czech Saaz Hops give this light ale the perfect balance and clean finish that will make you want to sell yours for a pint, too. You’ll not regret the trade-off; you might even be willing to do it again.
Style: Golden Ale
First up was the FAUST GOLDEN ALE. If you read my beer reviews with any regularity at all, you probably know that I’m not much of a fan of this style… yet I seem to review it a lot. In general the Golden Ale is just a bit boring for me; it’s no American Adjunct Lager or anything like that, but as a fan of big, esoteric brews this style usually leaves me a bit flat.
When I received my flight, the FGA looked as I pretty much expected it to: a light gold hue with a brilliant white head that disappeared pretty quickly and left behind little trace that it was there. There was not really any lacing to speak of, so once the head was gone it was gone. Taking of whiff of it, again what I was getting was pretty much exactly what I would expect to get. The FGA had a slightly sweet malt backbone, with little to no hop on the end; it is your average golden in the eyes and in the nose.
Taking the FGA to my lips, I was a bit happier than I expected to be. It carries with it a good, crisp sweetness, but it’s not sticky or overly done. There’s almost no hop flavor (as would be expected for the style), but the sweet malt is still balanced and not overly done, which can be a common error on the Golden Ale. The malt keeps from being heavy on the swallow as well, so that the FGA has a light and tangy mouthfeel that would make it easy to put away in larger quantities. Overall, FGA is a good representation of a style that I’m just not a huge fan of.
Overall 6 / 10
Ginger Honey Wheat
About the Beer (from the Brewer):
An American Wheat made with fresh ginger and local honey for a hint of spicy sweetness. ABV 5.4%, IBU 16 from Kent Goldings and Falconers Flight for a touch of Citrus
Up next on my trip down Faust Lane was the GINGER HONEY WHEAT. Just upon hearing the name I was intrigued, and had to see what this was all about. Ray warned me that often times people either feel that this beer carries way too little ginger, or way too much… as a fan of ginger I was excited to see what was going on in this taster glass.
To the eyeballs, GHW comes off as a very solid, very true to style Hefeweizen. It has a hazy golden color topped by a fluffy white head, which sticks around for a good long while and leaves a definite record of the strata as it recedes down into a halo topping that elixir. The nose, however, disagrees with the eyes. “This is not a Hefe!” my nose tells my brain, “it’s damned ginger ale… wait, it’s ginger ale MIXED with a Hefe!” The ginger aroma is prominent up front, but behind it lurks the esters one would expect from any decent Hefeweizen.
My tongue makes my brain more confused, as what I get is that ginger (expected), lemon (unexpected), honey (expected – it’s right in the name!), and a touch of bitterness on the exit (unexpected in the style). The fusion of ingredients ends up with an amalgamation that I don’t think I’ve had before in a Hefe. Really, this mishmash takes GHW away from true Hefe territory into something much more interesting to my palate. It’s more bitter than I would expect, and a lot more flavor, and these are not bad things. The body is still in that Hefe range, being smooth and thin (but not too thin), with mild carbonation. The flavor is such that I don’t see myself sitting down and drinking a whole ton of these, but the first one or two would be very refreshing and welcomed.
Overall 8 / 10
About the Beer (from faustbrewing.co):
Don’t let the name fool you, this beer might look bitter, but is quite nice. With a balanced alcohol and hop character, this English lion comes off toasty and fruity. For authenticity, this beer was created after a trip to England by our Brewmaster Ray and Vance Hinton.
Style: Extra Special Bitter
Extra Special Bitter is a style that, along with Altbier, I need to get to know more of. It’s just not something we see a lot of here in the states, and it intrigues me. I love the fact that the word “bitter” is in the name, though it usually tops out at 50 IBUs. It’s just an interesting style that I need to experience more.
VINNY’S ESB pours a sparkling ruddy reddish-brown with a slightly off-white head that fades slowly. When it has finally taken its leave, there is a beautiful lace adorning the walls of my glass to remind me what once was. When I analyze the aromas, what my brain whispers to me is “Märtzen,” but I say “shut up brain before I poke you with a q-tip again.” While I know it’s no Oktoberfest, the mild, malt-heavy aroma tries to trick me into believing it may be. For something called a “bitter” I am again surprised at just how little hoppiness I get from the aroma; but, this is just because it is an ESB, not because of any flaw in this particular beer. The BJCP for Style 8C says that the “hop aroma [can vary from] moderately-high to moderately-low” and this is certainly on the latter part of that scale.
Once VESB hits my tongue, I am a bit more surprised. Up front I get smooth, watered-down caramel, and a bitter hit on the end that my nose failed to warn me about. This is still no IPA or anything, but there is a distinct bite at the end of the sip that makes me understand the style’s name a bit more. The body for VESB is a nice middle ground between thick and thin, and it serves the flavor components well. There is prickliness to the carbonation that I get a bit in the back of my throat and up into my nasal cavities, and I enjoy it. It’s just again there to remind me that I really need to get to know this style more, and with each sip I enjoy it more. This is not a style that I usually have as a “go-to” in any way, but now that I have enjoyed a fresh, not-shipped-over-the-ocean-in-a-warm-container ESB, I want more. Thanks Vinny, for opening my eyes.
Overall 7 / 10
About the Beer (from faustbrewing.co):
We all need to change our perspectives every now and again, and, ab und zu, take a little trip to the dark side. This Dusseldorf-styled ale is the quintessential Altbier, attaining the duality of a light-bodied ale with dark, malty flavor and color. Let it bring out the devil in you.
ALTERED STATES is another foray into a style that I just don’t drink much of. Overall I’m not too much of a lager guy; I prefer the more complex esters and flavors that the ale yeasts provide. But there are times that a nice, crisp, clean flavor profile is called for. I keep trying to break my bias to lagers, but I am usually disappointed when I drink one, then I head back to the ale side of the fence. Though Altbier is kind of a lager (brewed with ale yeast, but lagered at colder temps to keep the fruity ester production down), I wanted to give AS a good chance so I decided to just dive right in, fences be damned.
To look at it, I would guess it were a Porter or maybe a thin Stout, not an Alt. Without backlighting, AS is a deeply hued brown, but when you take it to the light it gives up it’s much more radiant roots. With some glow behind, AS comes off a rich mahogany color, topped with a light khaki cap. The head fades somewhat slowly, and leaves good remnants behind. My nose agrees with my eyes; this is much more roasty than any Alt I’ve stuck my snout into before, and again if I had to guess I would say I was partaking in a Porter.
My tongue, however, tells me this is not a Porter. AS is certainly an Alt, but a much deeper, roastier Alt then I’ve ever had before. This makes for an interesting flavor dichotomy as I’m drinking the AS. It’s got that bitter caramel on one hand that I would expect from an Alt, but on the other end of that spectrum I also have that deep roast that kept tricking my brain into thinking Porter. I’ve never had an Alt that is this heavy and thick, and I really wonder if this was lagered, or if it has been brewed as an ale. The ale-like Porter flavors are up front, and the caramel and bitter are on the exit. The build on my palate, to make this a more bitter beer than its IBU count would have you believe. What it doesn’t do is come off crisp and clean like what you would expect from a beer style that is usually lagered (even though it is generally brewed with an ale yeast strain). Weird. The body is also a bit thicker, smoother, and velvet-ier than what I would expect from an Alt, which again makes me wonder if it was lagered at all. Though I will say this, this is a pretty easy to drink beer for being as deep and roasty as it is. It’s an interesting take on an old style.
Overall 6 / 10
Brewery site: http://www.faustbrewing.co