Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stone TBA

Those who know me well, know me in my unguarded moments, know me from my unpublished as well as published works...know that I'm skeptical of the vaunted impact of homebrewers on American craft brewing. Fritz Maytag wasn't a homebrewer, Bert Grant wasn't a homebrewer, Jim Koch may have brewed some batches at home, but all directed at his commercial product. Oh, I'll give you Ken Grossman, and Charlie Papazian, and -- here in Philly -- the influence of homebrew pioneers like George and Nancy from Home Sweet Homebrew. But I can't help thinking the industry is outgrowing the connection, and that homebrewers are mostly responsible for this bizarre fascination with stuffing hops into beers in every way possible...

And then I get a glass of something like this Stone/Fat Head's/Bear Republic collaboration project: TBA. I know this beer has homebrewing DNA (I know one of the homebrewers who was involved in the early origins of the 'style'), and I have a glass poured and waiting by the keyboard, and...wow, I can smell Columbus from here and it's grabbing me...

Poor little unsuspecting broonale...
Texas Brown Ale. The source of American Brown Ale, one of the earliest examples of the American habit of sneaking up on an unsuspecting English ale type, sapping it with a weighted floating hydrometer, dragging it into a dark basement, and ramming it full of hops until it shrieks with pine and citrus aromas... And it turns out to be a killer success

Why? Because it's a variant on our beloved hopsamatic, an IPA with sweet body, a sweet brown ale with a knife-sharp keel of steely hops. It is a beer that pleases, teases, and -- no, 'squeezes' would rhyme, but this beer slaps, there's no way around it. Excellent aroma, with the brown sugar and molasses swirling up through all the pine and citrus hops; good body, and again, sweet and bitter battle through. It fights to the last sip, and the finish stays bitter.

All right, homebrewers. You win this round. This is a beer with impact, and a beer that goes back to the beginnings of craft brewing, and at the earliest...it's a homebrew.

5 comments:

Steven said...

I used to always taste a little bit of that "home-brewed" character in the newer micros' beers that came out. Not so much anymore -- until a local pub started canning its stuff for retail.

My first taste of their Oatmeal Stout brought back a flood of memories from the early (more simple?) days of Micro Brewing.

Sud Savant said...

Great review! I love your description.

Anonymous said...

Steven, i had that same experience with a brewpub-with-a-canning-line, thanks to a recommendation by Stan Hieronymous -- Wild Onion Jack Stout. Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown in bombers has it, too, but I've had inconsistent luck from bottle to bottle. There's an Indiana brewery called Oaken Barrel that makes a brew called Epiphany around Christmastime that has that character as well.

Bill

Steven said...

"Wild Onion Jack Stout."

Great minds... uh, drink(?) alike! That's the same beer I was talking about (I can't recall if I mentioned that to Stan or not...).

I've had hit-or-miss luck with Flossmoor as well. Tried an IPA a couple years back that had just gone to seed.

Have you had the Wild Onion Irish Red yet? That will be my next sample from them.

Bill said...

Steven, i wrote Stan to thank him yesterday, and he gave you credit, so I realized that the beer you were talking about was the one I just recommended to you...

I haven't had the Irish Red yet, but look forward to doing so.

ps -- I think the captcha default is to refuse your first entry regardless of whther it's right or wrong...