Old Pricks by Black Bridge Brewery

“They are to varying extents dark, rich and sweet, typically with suggestions of soft, curranty fruitiness and blackstrap molasses.”  – Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion

What’s new is old again.  An old ale will be on tap this weekend at Black Bridge.  It’s called Old Pricks, which is an homage, of sorts, to the prickly pear beer brewed by the women of B3.  That one is called No Pricks Allowed.  This one is brewed by the old men of B3 and they wish to release it just prior to tax day.  I’ll leave you to suss out the pun therein.

What do we look for in old ales?  They’re beers meant to be cellared, or aged.  So you would taste that time in the body.  There will be some oxidation giving it a papery, stale, sherryish flavor.  Imagine an amber or brown beer kept in a cask for several months or more.  They would pick up the quality of the wood.  Additionally, any leftover yeast would act on the beer, continuing to ferment and bequeathing a winy characteristic.   The beer family these ales reside in, mild and barley wine, are oft considered “winter beers,” so releasing during early spring is … bold, maybe?  It’s cool, to be sure, craft beer will be unleashed whenever brewers decide it is their desire.

It should be a malty, complex, stale delight.

That Smell ….
Muted and subdued.  Mostly, I could identify bread.  The pale malt comes right through in the nose.  As successive glasses warmed there was maybe a little caramel  and a slight ester character.  I want to say it was prune that I pinpointed, but I’m not that positive.  It was that kind of “dark fruit” smell, at least.

In Appearance …
Old ales should be darker beers.  Not stout level but a it should have some woody chromatics.  This has a gorgeous spectrum of red, orange and brown and possesses outstanding clarity and sports a sound ivory and tan head.

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But the Taste …
Strong malt sweetness.  Not overpoweringly so.  Also a dry-ish finish.  The oxidation, the staleness I sought was a specter in the aftertaste.  I’d like to see that more pronounced, but that’s a subjective wish, isn’t it?   The body does seem a bit light.  Aging for extended periods can produce such an effect so in that regard, well done.  It was only aged for 3-4 months, maybe some ruggedness will appear.  If not, it does have a slight creamy mouthfeel that is pleasant and at 6.6% abv it does produce a warming alcoholic effect.

In Conclusion …
Another corking entry to the B3 taplist.  It was only aged a few months, so I really want to see what this will be like when it gets a good amount of age on it in the keg but I really enjoy it now, too.  It’s reminiscent of 80 Shilling, neither aggressive or assertive.  Perhaps you remember the bready goodness of Oktoberfest; Old Pricks is like that, darker in overall tone, color and flavor.  B3 has done an altbier in the past to which this might be similar.  I could only find this note about that beer:  “It was a cousin to the schwarzbier, lighter in color, heavier in body and still tasty.”  Old Pricks is just as tasty.  But it resembles some of the barley wines, mostly, though heavier in mouthfeel and not quite as hefty in alcohol.

History indicates an old ale should be nurtured quietly in the glass, near a fire and steeped in quiet conversation or contemplation.  Old Pricks has that character.  It adds to the pub culture engendered at Black Bridge, not requiring in depth analysis to enjoy but not fearing it either.

 

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K-Town Weiss by Black Bridge Brewery

Unless winter decides it did not represent itself enough this year and decides to hang on and bully us until summer, our weather should start to think about spring soon.  Black Bridge’s recent tap-list addition can therefore be viewed as either a farewell to the cold season or a herald of springtime.  The beer is K-Town Weiss, which is pronounced “vice.”

It is a wheat beer of German descent.  The majority of the grist bill will consist of wheat malt, hops presence will be very low, imperceptible.   The ‘weiss’ indicates it’s a “white” beer which meant that this style was cloudy and hazy instead of having the clarity of a pilsener or strong golden ale.   This was due to the yeast still being suspended in the body of the beer.  Additionally, it indicates that a Bavarian weissbier yeast strain was used in production.  You likely have heard of these beers as hefeweizen – refreshing, light and happy beers, perfect for the desert.

That Smell …
All I could pick up was a yeasty, grainy aroma.  No hops present.  I did not get any clove, which is predominantly the nose of these beers.  So you may smell that, or even some bubblegum.

In Appearance …
It is, indeed, yellow. Not cloudy, I’d say, but nebular.  A bright, appealing nebula of orange juice. 

But the Taste …
Light and bubbly body. Banana has a moderate presence here. Maybe that adds to its Springiness, that slight allusion to a tropical ideal. Nice. So Germany, where this originated, really isn’t tropical. It’s fascinating that a yeast strain from there, which was used in this beer, would develop such flavor motif.  Anyway.  There’s a slight tartness to it, too. Like a Berliner Weisse, almost, but not as pronounced.  Dry finish. No hops perception, and I really didn’t catch any clove. Nor any effervescence.

Conclusions
The wheat beer well known at Black Bridge is Wicked Poison.  It’s a 14% monster.  In contrast, K-Town is a modest 4.7% abv, so it won’t clobber you.  It’s also good with sour cream & onion dip.  Make of that what you will.   Sit on your porch, watch spring happen.

A Herald of Light

It is spring.  The light comes early.  Thoughts turn to the estate and its upkeep.  This includes proper landscaping and organization of the garage.  All such things have gone undone during the dark of winter.

Any project I  undertake has a beer factor.  Since, theoretically, my cognitive skills will be engaged with the tasks noted in the opening paragraph that same cognition cannot be derailed by dissecting a home brew.  Therefore I need to brew a beer that is light like the season, refreshing and easy on the palate and the neurons.

In my recipe register there is a dark mild.  It is named Herald.  It brews fast, two weeks from mash tun to bottle.  It seems a good idea to take that recipe and modify it slightly.  A little pilsner malt and some wheat in place of the chocolate.  I’m just not sure which yeast to use yet.  American Ale or Kolsch?  I’m leaning towards the Kolsch strain.

My inner eye has seen the mash.  I have seen the transference of liquid.  I can envision the krausen.  It must be done.