In case no one has told you, it’s hot, crazy hot. The kind of hot that makes chickens lay hard boiled eggs. Fear not, even in this weather, construction is moving forward on The Granary. We are getting more excited by the day as kitchen walls are going up, equipment is coming in, and the whole place is starting to take shape.
All of this work is making us thirsty though, and we can’t think of a better way to cool off than having a beer. It may be tempting to grab a six pack of that mass market stuff and drink it like water (that’s basically what it tastes like), but we have a few suggestions for you. Below I’ve highlighted two great beer styles that are perfect for the Texas summer.
Belgian Saison: This one is a favorite of mine and we will be brewing a Saison at The Granary for you to soon enjoy. Tradition tells us that Saison style beers were born on working farms in Belgium and France. They were brewed in the spring and had to last through the summer time to help sustain the farm workers. The beer had to refresh and hydrate the workers but be low enough in alcohol to not inhibit their work. Thus the Saison style was born.
A Saison can be many things, but generally it is a light bodied, refreshing, tart, very dry beer. Saisons are usually bright orange and yellow in appearance and may not be very clear as most are unfiltered. They are mild to moderate in bitterness and are extremely drinkable. A unique beer yeast is used to produce Saison and the yeast contributes all sorts of tropical and citrus fruit, pepper, and spice notes to the finished beer. Saison yeasts like fermenting at warmer temperatures, and that high temperature fermentation helps bring all of those estery, phenolic notes to the party. The nose of a Saison is heavenly with fruity esters, tartness and often some floral, spicy hop aroma, as well. Believe me though, it tastes even better than it smells. The tart and dry qualities of a Saison make it a great thirst quenching summer beer. It’s light enough to not slow you down, but it’s packed with delicious flavors you may not expect in a beer. Saisons are great with salads, fish, or spicy food in general, but to be honest I’ve found few foods that a good Saison doesn’t agree with. Saison is a style that lends itself to variation and interpretation, so it’s always exciting to try a different brewery’s version. If you’d like to try a Saison (you do, really), here are some offerings that you should be able to find around town in large 750 ml bottles (wine size). They are bit more expensive but so worth it. So find a friend, crack open one of these guys, and share the experience.
Tank 7 – Brewed by Boulevard Brewing Co. (Kansas City, MO)
Noble King – Brewed by Jester King Brewery (Austin, TX)
Saison Dupont – Brewed by La Brasserie Dupont (Belgium)
Ovila Saison – Brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA)
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace – Brewed by Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn NY)
Pilsner: Most people have heard of Pilsner, but few people have had a good, authentic Pilsner. The stuff that is peddled on TV is not a true Pilsner and unfortunately creates a lot of misconceptions about the style. Real Pilsners go through months of extended cold storage (lagering) to bring out crisp, delicate and clean flavors in the beer, while the mass market stuff is usually out the door in under 2-3 weeks. The light “pilsners” that are marketed on every corner are about as much a Pilsner as Cheeze Whiz is a real farmhouse Cheddar cheese.
Pilsners were first produced in the town of “Pilsen” in Bohemia, what is now modern day Czech Republic. Germany soon started to brew its own version, and there are several styles of Pilsner to this day, depending on the region in which they were brewed. A true Pilsner will have striking clarity with soft malt and bready notes in the nose and flavor. Generally it has a notable bitterness and is dry, crisp and snappy. Floral and spicy hop notes are highlighted but never overwhelming. Pilsners tend to hover around the 5% ABV range, so you can have more than one and not be under the table. Pilsners are fairly simple compared to most craft beer, but they are beautiful when done well. Their simplicity also makes pairing them with food easy. The heat from spicy foods will be cooled down by the sweetness from the malt and lifted off the palate by the higher carbonation, so Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese dishes are great choices for pairing. Here are some Pilsners worth your time, and most are available in 6 packs.
Prima Pils – Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA)
Pilz – Live Oak Brewing Co. (Austin, TX) (Only available on draft)
Pearl Snap – Austin Beer Works (Austin)
Pilsener - König Brewery (Germany)
Well, after all of that, I’m pretty thirsty. We can’t do anything about the weather, but at least we can enjoy great beer. So next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t just grab what’s familiar; try something new! There are hundreds of great beers wanting you to take them home.