I have been waiting for the day that I could write a review of Mad Pecker’s beers, and then you could go buy those beers… and now you finally can! I first became aware of Mad Pecker back sometime in the summer of 2013, when I met Aaron Mendiola at Big Hops. He is a fellow beer reviewer, and also was part of a homebrew collective with some of his oldest friends. I got a chance to first review Mad Pecker’s beers at a homebrew event back in November, 2013, and I’ve been excited to see them share their beer with the world since. Well, fast forward to the end of 2015, and Jason Gonzales has signed a lease for a location in the North East portion of San Antonio (luckily for me, less than 10 minutes from my house) and has opened a brewpub with a bunch of taps, including at least a few MP beers on at all times. And now you can go check out their beer for yourself!
About the Brewery (from madpeckerbrewing.com):
Shunned from the rest of society, the Mad Pecker was cast away to live in solitude… The result of being a craft brewer. People weren’t ready to trade in their watered down, same tasting, conveyor belt beer that had taken control of the land. Left ridiculed and without a brewery, the Mad Pecker sought refuge in the once lush hops-forest which had been leveled due to the macro-industrial beer makers lust for control. It was here that the Mad Pecker would change the beer industry by brewing some of the greatest tasting craft beers ever created, tempting the taste of those willing to try. Mad Pecker Brewing Co. will tell his story, by crafting beers that break out of the norm and mundane to help change what has now become the craft beer revolution.
Ridge Creek Blonde
About the Beer (from untappd.com/b/mad-pecker-brewing-co-ridge-creek-blonde/1382602):
Our house blonde ale that pays tribute to the Ridge Creek subdivision in The Great Northwest. Smooth, easy drinking, and very Mad Pecker!
In general, Blonde’s are not my thing. It’s a style that is just lacking a lot of the big flavors that I most enjoy in beer; big roasty flavors or dank hops or warming alcohol… none of those are present in this style. Conversely, I completely understand why breweries choose to make this style. You have to have something for those people that are used to the American Adjunct Lagers (AAL) our country has been inundated with the last 50 years, and these people need something to dip their toe in before just jumping into the craft beer pool. I would not want to hand a 100 IBU Double IPA or a 14% Barleywine to someone used to Bud; you’ve got to ease them in. Plus, some people like the lighter fare. I get it.
As Aaron, now the manager/bartender at MP (or as I like to call him, “The Lord of the Dark Taps, Bringer of Darkness and Hops” which I think should be his official job title), brought me a RIDGE CREEK BLONDE I was immediately impressed with just how crystal clear it was. In some beers this doesn’t matter, but if you’re going to make a Blonde that appeals to the masses, it needs to look like RCB. Bright, beautiful yellow, super clear, with a bright white head that receded quickly and left behind just a touch of lacing, RCB looked exactly as I hoped it would. Taking it to my nose, I got a slight sweetness, but backed by what I would expect to smell with an AAL. This beer, in both look and smell, would be a great jumping in point for your buddies that are new to craft beer. The aroma was reminiscent of your average AAL, but with a heightened sweetness, and more complexity (and without the corn smell so many of those crappy beers give off).
When I finally took a sip, I was pleasantly surprised that yes, this is a Blonde, but more so. It’s almost a Blonde on steroids… or maybe not steroids, maybe creatine; it’s more pungent in its flavor, more obvious in its hopping than your average Blonde but not to a point that it would be off-putting to that newbie friend you brought with you to MP. This is a Blonde that I could drink. A Blonde would never be my first choice of beers, but this particular one would definitely be A choice. Nicely done, Jason.
As expected, RCB is relatively thin and smooth as it gets in my belly. This is not a heavy beer at all, and would be a good one to sit on MP’s patio and drink in the hot summer months. RCB is easy to put back, and I could see myself drinking a few of them on a hot day. Should MP ever start canning, this would be a great “river beer” to float down the Comal with a few cans in a cooler! I love the sweetness of the beer, but more so the fact that the sweetness does not get overpowering so it does not affect the drinkability of RCB. Overall this is just a solid Blonde and a great place to start with at MP.
Overall 7 / 10
A Stout Called Quest
Style: Oatmeal Stout
IBU: Not Listed
Craft beer and metal have a well-known partnership. Breweries like Three Floyds likes to make metal collaborations, and even locally here Real Ale has collaborated with The Sword. More than just collaborations, there are many beers with metal-influenced names and/or art. This is not as common with hip-hop, and I am glad to see Jason bringing that influence into the craft beer world. Just about every time I’ve been to MP, there is hip- hop on the speakers, but more than that are MP’s hip-hop named beers (so far, THE INFAMOUS… HOPP DEEP and A STOUT CALLED QUEST) bringing craft to the hip-hop crowd.
When Aaron brought me ASCQ he explained that the smaller glass size was not because of the alcohol content (this particular beer is pretty reserved at 5.6%), but because MP is serving their “special” beers in smaller glasses so more people get a chance to try them. The glass is filled with a deep opaque blackness with nearly no head at all, and what was there drops to a halo on the ink almost immediately. With this being an Oatmeal Stout, I was a bit surprised that there was such a lack of foam; I don’t know if it was poured a while before it was delivered or it was just too full or what, but I was taken aback. Usually with a Stout, and even more so with an Oatmeal Stout, I am expecting dark, fluffy clouds riding the top of the glass but in this case they were all but absent.
I was also a bit surprised when I took a whiff of ASCQ, because what my nose was telling my brain did not jive with what my eyes were saying. My eyes are saying “it’s a super dark stout, it’s going to be roasty and have a good coffee bitterness to it” but my nose disagrees and tells me “nope, this is much more mild, and sweet, almost vinous.” Surprising. Taking a taste, my tongue agrees with my nose. I get that wine note from the aroma pretty up front, with a lot of dark fruit flavors, and very minimal roast almost to the point of being an afterthought in the flavor. If you brought me ASCQ and didn’t tell me anything about it, I would think this was a dark Belgian Quad that wasn’t fermented hot enough to bring out the esters, not an Oatmeal Stout. The flavor of ASCQ is in no way bad, just really not at all what I thought it was going to be, and not what my experience with this style prepared me for.
The body of the beer was very thin and slick, almost oily, which also goes against my expectations. With the style ASCQ purports to be, I expect big and bold body, thick and chewy and maybe a bit on the velvet side. The body on this again made me think more of a Quad than a Stout. The flavor lingered on my palate, and as it was starting to fade, an odd aftertaste that I had a really hard time describing rose up; I feel like some time might treat this beer well, even though it has such a low ABV. ASCQ was served well by the smaller glass, because while I enjoyed it I don’t think I could drink a lot of it in one sitting and a pint might be pushing it. Overall ASCQ was a good beer, but odd. I feel like I was really expecting one thing and got something that was, while good, completely different.
Overall 6.5 / 10