Tag Archives: mystery brewing

My Week On Untappd

Here is a new weekly feature for Mondays in which I will regale you with what I drank during my week on Untappd.  This is a good list of what I’ve drunk this week, but it usually omits one or two because sometimes I just don’t care and forget to check in.  For instance, this week I think I missed a couple of beers from Monday, but there was nothing new or noteworthy so it doesn’t matter.  This week is good because there are a lot of beers that are new to me or that I really like.

If you want to see what I’m drinking in real time follow me on Twitter (@moewriter) or friend me on Untapped, username uncmoe.

Growler Taste Test: Mystery Brewing Lockwood’s Retreat IPA

Mystery Brewing is one of my favorite brewers and they make some of my favorite beers to review (here and here).  The reason is simple.  While most of the rest of the craft beer world tries to find ways to make beer ever hoppier and find ingredients to blow people’s minds, Erik Lars Myers and his team go about their business making good beer.  Myers is on the leading edge of brewers who have realized that eventually you won’t be able to put anymore hops in beer and brewing beer with sriracha or scorpions or yeast from a brewer’s beard is a great gimmick.  However, that isn’t a sustainable strategy.  Instead Mystery concentrates on making flavorful beer using traditional ingredients in new and interesting ways.

20150628_215408Lockwood’s Retreat IPA may be the most traditionally American craft beer I’ve had from Mystery.  Lockwood’s Retreat is Mystery’s summer IPA offering.  The name comes from one of the narrators in Wuthering Heights, Mr. Lockwood.  Lockwood eventually retreats from the main characters’ raging emotional turmoil and Mystery developed this IPA developed as a retreat from the raging hops taste of most IPAs.

It pours a hazy dark color with an off white head. You get a lot of hops on the aroma, but it is more of a grassy and floral hoppiness that makes its hop profile more English in style while keeping the American hop intensity.  There is also a big malt aroma with bready sweetness.

The hoppiness continues with the taste.  Again, you get a grassy and floral taste as opposed to the citrusy and piney taste normally associated with the predominant West Coast IPAs.  The sweet maltiness holds up against the hoppiness creating a balanced beer.   This is the kind of beer you should give a friend trying to get into craft beer specifically IPAs.

The Spotify playlist for this beer was motivated by Mystery’s use of literature as inspiration.  Here are the songs with the corresponding literary parent.

  1. 2+2=5 by Radiohead – 1984 by George Orwell
  2. Christabel by Robert Earl Keen – Cristabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  3. Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police – Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
  4. Eveline by Nickel Creek – Eveline by James Joyce
  5. The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen – Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  6. Venus In Furs by Velvet Underground – Venus In Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
  7. The River by PJ Harvey – The River by Flannery O’Conner
  8. The Sensual World by Kate Bush – Closing of Ulysses by James Joyce
  9. White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  10. Toilet Tisha by Outkast – Poor Liza by Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin

Bottle Taste Test: Mystery Brewing Faulkner Sour Peach Ale

My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky. – William Faulkner

If you are a writer, particularly an American fiction writer and even more particularly a Southern American fiction writer, you have had to wrestle with William Faulkner.  His literature has not only shaped American fiction, but it has also shaped how the country sees the South and more importantly how the South sees itself.

Strip away Faulkner’s influence, you still have the writing, the art.  To me writing fiction is both an art and a craft.  It divines its beauty as much from the constant repetition of the act of writing as it does from the unforeseen inspiration it requires to affect readers.  The best writers put their butts in a chair and write every day.  They practice the craft constantly not waiting for the beauty to come to them, but chasing it down and hunting for it in their own minds.

The very best brewers are the same way.  Talk to any brewer worth their weight in malt and they will tell you about the beer that is just about to finish fermenting, the beer they are boiling right now, and the beers they have in planning.  The best constantly practice their craft in hope of finding that perfect moment of inspiration to make something truly great.  In the meantime they are content with creating consistently good and enjoyable beer.

One of my favorite breweries is Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, NC.  Here is a quote from the Mystery website as to why they chose the name, “…So, it’s a tribute, it’s recognition that there is just as much art to brewing as there is science…”

IMG_20150621_222304Founder and head brewer Erik Lars Myers and the rest of his team choose a barrel aged sour peach ale to give the name Faulkner.  Usually, when you think of a barrel aged beer you think bourbon barrels and high ABV (knowing William Faulkner’s history would have cemented that idea).  This one is different.

It pours a clear gold/light amber color.  The head is a little thin and dissipates pretty quickly, but it still has a nice carbonation to it.  On the nose you immediately get a sweet biscuity and peach aroma.  There is just a little fruity hop aroma in there as well.

There is little alcohol (5% ABV) to detect.  There is also very little hop bitterness to detect under the sourness.  Where a lot of beers that use fruit get it wrong is they weigh the beer down with so much fruit that it taste like a Jolly Rancher.  In this case, the peach flavor is subtle and becomes most noticeable on the back of the throat.  It is a very dry beer that begs you to take another sip which you will not mind because it also a very good refreshing beer for the summer.

Since this beer is named for one of the most famous Mississippians, today’s playlist will be blues musicians from Mississippi (you thought I was going to say Elvis).

Growler Taste Test: Mystery Brewing Locksley Ordinary Bitter

Mystery Brewing Locksley Ordinary Bitter

Growler 3 days old (This review is the reason I wanted to taste growlers. The taste can fluctuate and it can be interesting to see what happens to the taste.)

Mystery Brewing may be my favorite brewer in North Carolina.  The reason I say this comes from the fact that Mystery and its founder, CEO, and head brewer Erik Lars Myers focus on hand-crafting highly flavored beer using lots of different ingredients and not just shoving as many hops as you can in a beer.  They also look at brewing as the convergence of art and science.  They don’t really have a flagship year-around beer preferring to rotate beers seasonally to keep the ingredients fresh for brewing.  They also base the names of all their beers on characters and events from English history and literature.

For this tasting I drank the Locksley Ordinary Bitter.  (This is a point of confusion for craft newbies.  It is not bitter.  Bitters are low alcohol, low hopped pale ales.)  This is a beer that needs to be drank immediately.  The growler I tasted was 3 days old and the taste reflected that.  I can say that honestly because I had this beer off tap the day it was put on and it was a wonderful malty light spring/summer beer.

Locksley pours with a nice clear golden color with a thin head.  It had a nice aroma with nice floral and citrus hop aroma and sweet bready/apple malt back end aroma.  The taste is where I get the feeling the growler had gone slightly stale.  I got a nice herbal and floral taste of hops that was not too strong.  When I drank this fresh off the tap, I got more of a sweet bread malt taste.  With this growler it trended towards the wet cardboard oxidized taste we all hate.

Even with it not being fresh, this is still a delightful refreshing beer for the spring and summer.  It also goes really well with a woody cheddar.  As I did the tasting as part of lunch, I ate a nice English cheddar with it and had a wonderful time sitting on my porch enjoying beer and cheese.  It is another good example of how the circumstances can shape the perceptions of your beer.

This review brings up two things.  First, if you can always drink a beer on tap, do it.  Second, if you get a more delicate and malty beer for your growler, drink it quickly.  Those beers can turn quickly even if they are filled and sealed correctly.