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Monday, March 24, 2014

Only Child Brewing's Stressed Out, Anxious & Drop Dead Gorgeous

  • Style: Belgian Golden Ale
  • ABV: 8.4%
  • Ease to locate: Some Chicagoland craft stores.  As with most smaller breweries, it's worth checking out their Facebook Page and Twitter Account to follow their delivery schedules.  And if you really want to freak them out, get to the store first and ask what took them so long
  • Color: Hazy, orange amber with golden tones.  Thick & syrupy looking.
  • Head: Huge 2 and 1/2 finger, fluffy, off white head.  Clump after clumps of lacing.  I mean, just look at it! 
  • Aroma: Huge nose of orange, lemon peel and grapefruit notes mixed in with melon and lots of fruit esters.  A bit of sweetness and some dry cracker qualities.  A hint of spice buried.  Really lovely.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body with a bit of syrup, but plenty of carbonation to keep it balanced
  • Finish: Moderate and ends on a hoppy citrus note
  • Food Friendly?: Yes. Belgian Style Pale Ales are excellent with a great variety of foods.  Try it with an early Spring meal of roasted chicken and vegetables.  I happened to serve it with chicken tacos.  Pair creamy cheese like Brie.

Apple User's Link: An only child isn't necessarily a problem child. But it's much harder to blame things on a potted plant than your little brother

                                                                   The Beach Boys, Gilbert Gottfried AND John Stamos.  What more could you possibly want if you were stuck in the '80's? 

It started off innocently enough.  On the first day that temperatures rose above the I-think-my-eyeballs-have-developed-a-layer-of-permafrost index, I decided that I needed a walk.  The where was a given.  My local craft beer store is conveniently located with in walking distance for me, although I've been informed that my idea of walking distance is not the same as the general populace's idea of walking distance. (One word for the general population. Slackers.)  The what was to be determined once I arrived at the store.  I had been wanting to try something from Only Child Brewing for a while.  And when I realized that the bottle in my grubby little hand read "Belgian Style Golden Ale", it might as well as just have had my name written on it.  So the bomber found it's way into my bag and homeward bound I journeyed with thoughts of banana esters and candi sugars dancing in my head.  The dream was interrupted when I finally arrived home and realized that the bottle had leaked all over my bag (which still smells faintly of booze.  Not that I'm complaining.) I was even further disappointed when I poured what was left of the bomber into my glass.  It was a murky, almost neon orange color, and it smelled of old gym socks.  It didn't taste any better (I know.  Go figure.)  I chalked it up to good old Pepe Le Pew's will.  Just as Kardashians worm their ways onto magazine covers, skunked beers happen.  It's not the end of the world.  But, being the slightly anal retentive person that I am, I dutifully listed it on my UnTappd profile and forgot about it.  And that's where the story got interesting...

Before I knew it, Ben from Only Child sent me a Twitter message to find out what had happened to the beer.  At first I was slightly freaked thinking that a brewery was finally utilizing TV crime show measures like traffic cameras and random drones to check up on what I was drinking (Ummm, no.  That was not a Zima you saw!  I swear that I was just holding it for a friend....)   You see, I had momentarily forgotten  that my UnTappd profile was linked to my twitter account.  Through a series of messages, Ben (owner/brewer/Tweeter of tweets for Only Child) not only apologized for my skunked beer, but offered to drop a replacement off at another store while doing his deliveries the next week.  To say that I was slightly amazed is an understatement.  In this day and age where many establishments think that the customer is not always right, but quite honestly is an annoyance that should just get over their consumer, money grubbing, everything is about me selves, Only Child's unprovoked  and extremely quick response was a refreshing change.  Especially for a single child household brewery.  My only worry was this: What if after all of the hoops Only Child jumped through to provide me with a replacement beer, I didn't like the ale???? What is the definition of awkward?  Luckily, I didn't have to crack open the dictionary on this one after all.


My Stressed Out, Anxious & Drop Dead Gorgeous (OK, I'm going to have to stop right here.  I'm taking the blogger prerogative and abbreviating that mouthful of a name to SOADDG.  Which may sound like a cat hacking up a hairball when you try to say it out loud, so just read the rest of this post silently to yourself.  Or at least keep a decoy cat near by to absorb the blame. )  So anyway, my SOADDG poured a drop dead gorgeous orange amber with golden tones.   It was slightly hazy and very juicy looking.  A huge, dense and tightly bubbled two and a half finger just off white head formed.  It slowly settled to a thick, clumpy layer that floated on top of the ale.  Mounds of cloud like lacing stuck to the sides of the snifter.  Lovely to look at, a beauty to behold.  The nose was strong to say the least.  Heavy notes of citrus, mostly Mandarin orange, lemon peel  and a little grapefruit, mixed with fruity banana and melon esters.  A sweetness of Candi Sugar  and a dryness of crackers were layered into the aroma with a ever so slight note of spice buried towards the bottom of the scent.  The taste reflected the nose very closely.  Lots of citrus hops mingled with banana and melon (cantaloupe I believe) yeast esters. The dry cracker note was not as present, but the spice element was easier to find on the taste (it seemed to be clove to me).  It was exactly how I wanted a hoppier version of a Belgian inspired Pale Ale to be.  The mouthfeel had an almost DIPA syrupy feel to it, but that worked with the abundant carbonation to balance out the medium body.  A moderate finish nicely ended on a grapefruit, lemon peel note.
I love Belgian Pale Ales with food.  They help to take so much of the guess work out of pairing and really are one of those "Everybody's Happy" sort of beers.  I served SOADDG with homemade chicken tacos and Mexican rice. And in case a certain sister-in-law is reading this, I never said that the dinner was homemade by ME.  (It was delicious, by the way.)  The brightness of the citrus notes and the dryness of the carbonation worked brilliantly with the heat from the Mexican spices.  This Chicken Taco Recipe with Carmelized Onions would be equally delicious, but unless you can talk your own  talented sister-in-law into cooking it for you, not as much fun as my meal.  In fact, everything about experience with my first introduction to Only Child Brewing's was sort of fun.  My favorite part?  Walking into the liquor store (Capone's on Elston Ave if you're really curious) to pick up my replacement beer and telling them that Only Child  had left a beer with my name on it.  Little did I know just how actuate that statement actually was....