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.

Raleigh Brewing Company: First Taste

Today was the opening of the Raleigh Brewing Company which kicked off with a 7 hour opening celebration. I was able to enjoy roughly three and a half hours drinking, talking and just having a good time.

The place is much bigger than I expected. The main entrance serves as the door to both the homebrewing shop as well as the main bar area.

Be hind the bar is a warehouse/brewery area which also has a back in slot for food trucks. On opening night there was plenty of cornhole games going.

Unfortunately the doors opened before 5pm but they wouldn’t sell tickets for beer or food until the 5pm mark. This was a little awkward as a line formed waiting to get ID’d and ticketed with some people being turned away from the line. This caused a little crowed watching other people drinking. This was the only oddity of the night.

Once the general public was allowed in things started to move quickly. I was in the first five people to enter from the general public and went straight to the taps. Unsurprisingly people were friendly and civil at the bar. When a bartender asked the fellow next to me what he’d like the man kindly stated that he was third in line after me and another fellow. People were easy to talk to and just having a fun time. True craft crowd!

Beers

City of Blokes

I’m not really a fan of English bitters. I’ve not had a ton but, of those I have tired, I did enjoy Fuller’s ESB. City to find Blokes was my first pour and it wasn’t bad! I chose it so I wouldn’t be putting my first taste up against some of my all time favorites in the Belgian or IPA categories. It also helped that it had such a low ABV.

House of Clay

I was going to down a HellYesMa’am but decided to try the Rye IPA. I was seriously impressed. This may be my go to beer when visiting the establishment. It has an amazing citrus aroma and a nice job bite. I’m a fan of Sierra Nevada‘s Ruthless Rye but this has something it doesn’t. Maybe it’s simply the freshness, I’m not sure, but I really like it.

End Result

Fun night, good people, good beer. It was a success. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other core beers … especially that HellYesMa’am!

Raleigh Brewing Company Opens Today

Today marks the opening of the newest craft brewery in Raleigh: Raleigh Brewing Company. It’s sort of funny. By now you’d think someone else would have already chosen this name as there is no shortage of breweries springing up in the area.

The beer line up looks interesting. To be honest I’m surprised to see three English inspired beers (ESB, Porter, Scottish Ale) in an opening line up. I’ll likely try the ESB named “City of Blokes” as I’m assuming they see their strong point in English styles.

The test batch ratings are available already on Untappd. This may be a great way to decide what you’d like to sample if you are able to drop in. However, keep in mind that early tasters are probably looking at a beer with more of a critical palate than they would if they were simply dropping in for a drink. Here is the data logged by the tasters:

  • City of Blokes Test Batch (ESB): 3.53/5 Stars
  • Blatherskite Test Batch (Scottish Ale): Not Listed
  • House of Clay Test Batch(Rye IPA): 3.65/5 Stars
  • HellYesMa’am Test Batch (Belgian Golden): Not Listed
  • Coffee Porter (May be Hidden Pipe Test Batch) (Porter): 3.63/5 Stars
  • The Uncommon (May be Uncommon Curiosity Test Batch) (Blonde Lager): 3.64/5 Stars

At this time it looks like untappd is the only popular online beer location which has Raleigh Brewing Company beers listed. Beer Advocate and Ratebeer didn’t return any results though I’m pretty sure this will change today.

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.