It Doesn’t Have To Be Craft To Be Good But It Helps

It’s true. Or at least I believe it is. I’ve been using Untappd long enough to be able to see some basic trends in what I find to be quality beer. The overwhelming majority is craft beer (big craft, micro, nano, gypsy, brewpub, etc..) but, to my surprise, there were some macros which I legitimately enjoyed as well. The top three macros were:

Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse Natürtrub
I didn’t know this was a macro brewery else I honestly would have passed on it. I’m glad I didn’t know as it’s one of my favorite hefe beers. It’s got nice, strong banana esters, good feel and easy to drink.

Guinness Stout
Probably the most obvious one and on many lists. It’s not my favorite dry stout ever but it is tasty on draft. In a can or bottle I will probably pass unless the list is all macros. I can never seem to shake that extra bitter taste that accompanies bottled Guinness.

Murphy’s Irish Stout
Also done by a macro. I’ve never seen it on tap but for a dry stout in a can it’s good. It does have a thinner mouth feel that can turn some away but, for me, it works well.

While it’s nothing earth shattering it does tell me to judge less on the maker and more on the brew. It’s possible for macro including MBC to release a well crafted beer. But probably less likely. I don’t believe that macro beers will shoot up on my list any time soon, but I welcome the few that hit the spot.

Trophy: A Nano Brewery

Nestled a bit behind Raleigh’s Central Prison is a new nano brewery which has already been making some waves. It’s name? Trophy Brewing. It is a three barrel brewery which already has plans for minor expansion with pizza planned in the near future. And this is happening in a place where craft beer has been booking and new breweries are opening up left and right. But enough of all the background, let’s get down to the good stuff.

The Place

Right now the size of the place is holding Trophy back. My guess is roughly 30 people can be in there at any one time as long as about half of them are standing. They are working on adding a patio which should open things up a bit.

For now things are tight. The first two times I wanted to stop in the place was so packed I decided to just move on. After a while the traffic will slow down but for now finding the right time to make it in requires luck and some voodoo.

Parking is very limited. It’s probably best to park elsewhere and walk over.

The place has trophies lining the edges of the ceiling as well as trophies for tap handles. The decorations are minimal. Color scheme is woody and slightly retro.

The Beers

Sampled

Trophy Wife

American Pale Ale

Untappd

This was a highly drinkable APA. Generally I like more hop in a pale ale but this take on the style works. A bit sweeter than I would have expected with a much more understated citrus characteristic. So much so that it’s even less than the citrusy west coast IPA styles.

If you wish APA’s would be have less citrus, less hops yet keep the same mouth feel, aroma and a bitterness bite this should be on your list.

Biggest Flirt

Belgian IPA

Untappd

This was, unsurprisingly, my favorite of the tasting due to my love for Belgian style beer. Staying true to the Belgian heritage the brew was not overly hoppy. If it wasn’t for the name I’d have thought it was a lighter in color, general Belgian ale of some kind. Don’t let the IPA in the name fool you. It also was quite low in carbonation. I don’t know if this was a choice or just the will of the yeast. In appearance it was a bit of a turn off but the taste and liveliness of each sip did not suffer.

Best In Show

American Saison

Untappd

I have been on a saison kick and was a bit disappointed in this one. It was just too sweet and not as complex as I’d like in the style. Even the color was different than what I normally see in other saisons.

Don’t misunderstand me the drink is not poorly crafted, just not what I want out of a farmhouse ale.

Note they do specifically call this out as an American Saison. I’m not sure if there is a difference between traditional saisons or not.

Limbo Champ 

American Brown Ale

Untappd

This was the biggest surprise for me. Usually brown ales do nothing at all for me with exception to the CBC Maduro. Limbo Champ adds another exception to my list. Not only did I notice how easy it goes down but was intrigued by the chocolate and toffee notes I usually notice in its stouty brethren. Brown ale purists need not apply.

Eye Catching

The King

Belgian Dubbel

This I’ve yet to have only because they had already ran out of it before I was able to get in! Peanut butter and bananas (brewed with peanuts and includes plenty of esters). Here’s hopping it makes a comeback.

Trophinator

Dopplebock

This I took home in a growler for sampling later. Trophy describes it’s as a “Strong German style lager with notes of caramel and brown sugar.” Can’t wait to try it! It’s mocking me from my fridge.

Conclusion

In a city that has breweries springing up everywhere Trophy is going to need to find it’s nitch to stand out. Brews like The King, Limbo Champ and a few others not listed above show Trophy is willing to embrace the old extreme beer notions and experiment with taste. If they can grow to understand and supply the demand for their concoctions they may be able to take a front seat in a crowded NC beer marketplace.