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Friday, March 22, 2013

Begyle Brewing's Crash Landed

  • Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
  • ABV: 7%
  • Season: Year round
  • Ease to locate: Chicago distribution only (so far)  Mainly bottle shops and some liquor stores  Here's a link to their website
  • Color: Golden dark straw with a hint of orange to it
  • Head: One & a half fingers with good lacing
  • Aroma: Grains, wheat, a bit of biscuit and some slight sweetness
  • Mouthfeel: Medium with a good amount of carbonation
  • Finish: Short to medium.  I would have liked it slightly longer
  • Food friendly: Yes.  I can see this working equally well with roasted chicken or with a simple salad.  Try it with earthy cheeses like Fontina

 Being the new kid is never easy.  Finding your place in the group.  Figuring out what it is that you have to offer and then convincing everyone that they actually really want whatever that is.  It's all the insecurity of  high school, only with out the backpacks and bad hair (although I've got to ask.  Are hipster beards the brewers version of chef tattoos?   And do they have any sort of direct correlation to the IBU units in the beer they produce?  I wonder about these things.)   Right now in Chicago (and from what I'm hearing, it's pretty much the same for most other large urban areas of the country as well) there is a glut of new breweries that have recently opened within the last two years.  Some are destined to succeed while other will crash and burn on their own merits.   According to a reports recently published by the Brewers Association " In 2012, there was an 18 percent increase in the number of U.S. operating breweries, with the total count reaching 2,403. The count includes 409 new brewery openings and only 43 closings. "   Personally, I sometimes think that all 409 new breweries opened right here. It's reaching a point where I can't keep track of all of them.  Dry Hop Brewers.  Off Color Brewing.  Atlas Beer Company.   You could literally tell me that there is a place called Gullible Brewing Co. right  now and I'd probably believe you.

                                             Did you know that Lady Gaga had to open for New Kids on the Block when she started out?  Puts things in perspective, huh, Begyle?

Begyle Brewing is one of the new kids on the block  (not that they break out into a slick choreographed dance number when you visit the brewery.  I hear that they only do that at festivals.)  Begyle's niche is a bit of a unique one.  Using a CSA model (BCSA?) they eventually would like to create a series of beer subscriptions where monthly growler batches would be available for paid members.  It's an interesting concept.   But  just as a regular CSA membership intrigues me, I'm also somewhat hesitant because, well, what if the monthly offering is awful?  I mean, I don't want to get stuck with a bushel of blueberries (since they are really the only fruit I hate) let alone a growler of experimental blueberry green onion bock.  As far as I can tell, Begyle hasn't actually set up their BCSA as of yet, so you can only partake in their brews in certain pubs or bottle shops in and around Chicago.  I first tried a few of their beers at a recent winter fest in January and was rather impressed that they served some might tasty beers.  In fact, they served the beers that my group and I ended up liking the most that night.  So when I was studying the selves of my local bottle shop and found a few bottles of their beer, I had to give it shot.

For the new kid, it really was a fine looking beer. 

My Crash Landed poured a deep golden straw color liquid.  There were hints of orange in the coloring as well.  A lovely white 1 & 1/2 finger head formed, which took it's time settling very nicely into a shallow layer of foam for the rest of the drink.  Really good lacing was present, creeping it's glossy way up my pint glass with each sip.  I could smell a lot of grains and wheat scents on the nose.  There was also a bit of biscuit and a very small amount of sweetness present as well.  Although I couldn't really detect any hops on the nose, I could certainly taste them.  It was rather hop forward, with herbal notes very present.  But the hops worked in a nicely balanced sort of way.  When I spoke with one of the brewers at the beer fest back in January, he mentioned that they take pride in dry hopping all of their brew.  I think this shows in the controlled bitterness when you actually drink it.  I could taste the biscuit quality, but not much of the sweet scent that I discovered earlier.  I believe that this beer really needed a bit of brightness.  A hint of citrus (orange zest maybe, or even the go-to flavor of grapefruit) would have given the taste the complexity that I was yearning for.  A bit of resin showed up on the back of the sip after the initial wheat notes disappeared.  The mouthfeel was medium and helped by a good amount of carbonation.  It was smooth and easily drinkable.  The finish was short to medium, leaving pleasant resin note on your tongue.  I wish that the finish has lasted just a bit longer.  I think the simplicity of a beer like this could have benefited from a bit of intrigue on the finish.
No first out insecurities on this head

I would pair this beer with a variety of foods.  Roasted chicken, stuffed with aromatics like onions and sage, would be delicious served with Crash Landed.  Alternatively, this beer would be wonderful with a pizza, piled high with earthy wild mushrooms.  However, I also think it would work with lighter fare, such as a simple garden salad with a citrus vinaigrette.  You get the idea of it's versatility.
Numbero Uno

My Begyle Brewing's Crash Landed was marked as Batch #1.  To me, this is a beer that shows a lot of promise.  I liked it well enough that we quickly finished the bomber one night (and my family is not one to hesitate to drain pour something that we just aren't feeling.  Yeah, that's how we roll.)    Does it need some tweaks here and there?  In my humble opinion, yes.  A bit of brightness and a stronger finish could catapult this beer into the next level.  I was excited to find this brewery's offerings sitting on my local shop's shelves.  I'm even more excited to get an opportunity to try it again when they reach Batch #100. Because, remember, even Lady Gaga was a new kid once (but at least she got paid to be there.).