Monday, July 17, 2023

Tasty Southeastern Beer Reviews & Food Pairings


By Owen Ogletree and Kerri Allen
Hooter Brown
Oyster City Brewing Company
Apalachicola, Florida
Imperial Brown Ale, 8.5% ABV
Deep brown in color with a moderate tan head, this beer offers aromas of dark malt, cocoa, chocolate, toffee, pie crust and mild, pleasant, dark fruit esters. The palate picks up alcohol warmth along with slightly sweet malt complexity backed by caramel and chocolate candy notes. There's also complexity from nuances of raisin, fig and ripe plum esters. Appropriately, almost no roasted malt character emerges in this wonderfully malty, medium-bodied brown ale. Pair with desserts such as cheesecake, fruit tarts and French vanilla ice cream.
Imperial Hopsecutioner IPA
Terrapin Beer Company
Athens, Georgia
Double IPA, 9.8% ABV
Almost clear with just a hint of haze, the deep amber color and long-lasting off-white foam make this strong ale quite attractive. Look for moderate aromas originating from a range of U.S. hops that are reminiscent of citrus, pineapple and pine resin. The hefty malt bill also comes through on the nose with notes of caramel and toffee. A bit sweet for style, the beer's crystal malts and toasted malts are lightly balanced by tropical, resiny hop flavors. The big malt canvas could perhaps benefit from a bit more hop bitterness, and the beer finishes malty and boozy with a hint of alcohol spice and warmth. Pair this potent ale with gumbo, pad Thai or Indian butter chicken.
Retrospect IPA
Arches Brewing
Hapeville, Georgia
West Coast-Style IPA, 6.5% ABV
This ale pours with a deep amber color that falls on the dark end of the style's color spectrum. Brilliantly clear, the ale also boasts a substantial layer of tan foam. The nose picks up malt, caramel, toasted bread crust, light fruity esters and hop notes of citrus, pine resin and a hint of blood orange pith. On the tongue, malty, toffee-like notes appear up front, followed by earthy hop flavors and hints of pine bark. Hop bitterness seems mild for the style, but the beer comes across as quite approachable. One taster noticed a nuance of dark berries and pineapple in the ester profile. Pour this beer alongside turkey burgers with brown mustard or lemon pepper chicken wings.
Passion on Ponce IPA
Three Taverns Craft Brewery
Decatur, Georgia
American IPA with Passion Fruit, Orange & Guava, 7.5% ABV
With a deep gold color and apricot hue, this fruited IPA pours with a fluffy off-white head and almost perfect clarity. Expect aroma notes of rich passion fruit along with some orange hints and an earthy, tropical fruit juice character. A touch of hoppy pine resin notes comes through in the background. The flavors seem more balanced than the fruity nose, with citrusy American hops peeking through the fruit canvas. On the palate, a light malt character transitions quickly into a mélange of orange pith, tart passion fruit and earthy guava. The beer finishes dry with a light/medium body and a tasty bitter hop/fruit nuance that lingers on the back of the tongue in a welcoming way. Drink this beer with a plate of Caribbean grilled shrimp or jerk chicken with grilled pineapple. 
Italian-Style Pilz
Ology Brewing Company
Tallahassee, Florida
Italian-Style Pilsner, 5.0% ABV
Expecting a crystal-clear, crisp pilsner? Think again. Ology's take on the style pours with a gold/orange hue and appropriate white foam, but the lager showcases an unexpected haze. Aromas come through that make the beer seem more like a hop-forward hazy pale ale with tropical fruit notes. There's pilsner malt in the smell, along with significant New World hop character. On the palate, the beer again comes across like a hazy India Pale Lager with earthy hops, mineral-rich water and tropical fruit notes similar to light papaya. The beer finishes with a chalky dryness and pleasing hop nuance. Overall, this selection is delicious and enjoyable, even if it doesn't match the Italian pilsner style guidelines to a tee. White pizza or raw oysters would make a beautiful match for this lager.
Pales in Comparison
Edmund's Oast Brewing
Charleston, South Carolina
Double Dry-Hopped Hazy Pale Ale, 5.0% ABV
The beer pours with a golden color, moderate haze and a light layer of off-white bubbles. Aroma notes include green tea, jasmine, Mandarin oranges, kiwi fruit, light malt and cereal grains. Upon taking a sip, the palate registers many of the same aroma characteristics. There are also hints of buttery cashews and light, fruity hop flavor notes. The ale finishes dry with mild hop bitterness and a tropical citrus nuance. This pale ale's malt profile produces an appealing, refreshing, light body and character. The cereal grains help create the haze and perhaps somewhat mute the malt and hop complexity. The dry nature of this beer makes for a smart pairing with gyoza potstickers or shrimp with lobster sauce.
Wild Streak
Bearded Iris Brewing
Nashville, Tennessee
Sour Ale with Rosemary, Orange Peel & Vanilla, 5.1% ABV
A golden tone, white foam and slight haze highlight the appearance of this complex sour ale. Rosemary and other herb notes dominate the aroma profile, with peppercorns, crisp lactic acid, passion fruit, citrus peel, lemon and cucumber nuances emerging to enhance the overall flavor canvas. Expect a light body and crisp, refreshing, fruity, dry finish that continues to showcase the rosemary/herbal character after swallowing. The beer seems reminiscent of a dry, lightly acidic, refreshing white wine. Good pairings would include green olives, linguine with clam sauce or oven-roasted potatoes.
Chandeleur Island Brewing Company
Gulfport, Mississippi
Golden Ale, 5.0% ABV
With a golden tone, nice layer of white foam and attractive clarity, this quaffable golden ale serves up mild malt aromas and flavors of lightly sweet bread along with some cereal notes from additions of wheat and corn. The light body comes across as soft and lightly creamy with a hint of malt sweetness in the finish, balanced by a touch of citrusy American hop flavor and mild bitterness. Fruity esters are restrained, and the ale could almost pass for a lager, due to the clean nature of the mouthfeel and finish. This classic "beer-flavored-beer" shines with subtle complexity and good technical merit. In the spirit of the Gulf Coast, this beer would pair perfectly with a grouper sandwich and fries.
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Thursday, July 6, 2023

Women of Beer: Rachel Breite of Idyll Hounds Brewing


By Kerri Allen

Jack-of-all-trades stands out as a great moniker and job description for folks who make craft beer, and brewer Rachel Breite labels herself as exactly this. Rachel has been the brewer for Idyll Hounds Brewing Company in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, since December 2022. Before landing at Idyll Hounds, she started as head brewer for The Brew Pub (Ye Olde Brothers’ Brewery in Navarre, Florida). She moved from there to 3rd Planet Brewing in Niceville, Florida, before settling in at Idyll Hounds. 

Science is science, right? Rachel reminisces, “I got my start in craft beer in a less traditional route. My background is in Marine Biology, and I worked as a fisheries biologist prior to taking on the craft beer industry. I was in my mid-twenties at the time and was working as a bartender for a local craft brew pub in addition to laboring in my science field. I had a passion for the craft of beer and found myself in the back brewery more and more often, with questions about the process and styles. I really soaked up every bit of knowledge I could about beer from grain to glass. The owners noted my interest and appreciated my background in hard science, so I jumped at the opportunity when they asked me if I would be interested in brewing for them. I worked hard, studied at home a lot, and was fortunate to be surrounded by some amazing brewers in my community who supported me and helped me grow into the professional I am today. Now I am fortunate enough to say that I have been brewing professionally for just over five years."

Is science more enjoyable when you can share and drink the product of your labors? When asked what she loves most about being a part of a brewery, Rachel discusses her love for the amalgamation of art and science. She explains, "I think that it's incredible to be able to understand the science going on behind the brewing, fermenting, and cellaring processes; and to then be able to manipulate different variables to create the beer that you want. As much as it's a science, I believe there's an art to it too. You can hone in on specific flavor and aroma profiles by understanding the science and ingredients and how they interact. This allows brewers to craft the beer art of their dreams. Plus, getting to share my hard work and passion in a glass with others is just a really special feeling.” 

Who is 5’1” and totally badass? That would be Rachel Breite. Some height-challenged people complain about not being able to reach the top cabinets in their kitchen. Try hauling a 50-pound bag of grain or changing bulky fittings on a brew tank. When asked about her biggest brewing challenge, Rachel quips, “My stature is probably an obvious challenge; at 5'1", I have to use ladders and think smarter and not harder for many tasks around the brewery. I'm proud to say that I may be small, but I work hard, am strong, and can usually do almost any task solo. However, there is no use in being prideful, and there's nothing wrong with asking for help. My coworkers are always quick to jump in.” 

On a more serious note, Rachel mentions that self-doubt has been a difficult challenge. Her busy mind constantly makes her question if she is doing her best. She relates, “Despite being incredibly passionate about beer, regarding everything from the raw ingredients to the brewing and fermentation processes to the history and differentiation between global styles, I have asked myself more than once if I am doing enough. Am I good enough? Is my craft enough? I think it's easy to look around at fellow brewers and other breweries around the country and the world and compare yourself to them.” 

Rachel says she is overcoming this self-doubt and becoming more confident in her craft. Her secret, which she finds quite fulfilling, revolves around research. “I have found that as long as you're crafting the beer that you want and staying true to yourself, nothing can touch that," she says. "Do the research, know your styles, listen to the science, and you can brew whatever your heart desires. Yes, I can do it. Yes, I'm good enough."

Rachel enjoys being creative and working with various ingredients; botanicals have caught her attention recently. "It's incredible to be able to nail a beer that you crafted in your head - to see it and enjoy it in person and share it with people that you care about and know will appreciate your hard work," she notes. 

When asked why women and minorities are vital to this industry, Rachel stresses the importance of everyone having an equal platform to share their stories and passion. "In doing so, we create greater representation within the brewing community," she says. "I truly believe that everyone has a unique vision and a different way of looking at the world and that this carries over into their craft - whatever that may be. In the case of beer, women and minorities bring different visions, different creativity, and different approaches to the industry. This helps to not only diversify the workforce, but it also diversifies craft beer as a whole." 

As far as attracting more women and minorities to the beer industry, Rachel observes, "We need to practice inclusion by opening doors for others within our industry and creating safe and diverse industry spaces ranging from production to sales and marketing."

As a BJCP judge, Rachel enjoyed judging the Best Florida Beer competition this year. She also recently participated in the Dark Embrace Invitational Beer Festival in Tampa which she notes was an “incredible” event. Rachel also acts as the Pink Boots Society Panhandle representative for Florida.