The Right Way To Put Orange In Your Beer

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some day, I am going to try and brew a mead. Looking a mead recipes, they are a good deal less complicated than a normal batch of beer, which is also not that complicated. Heat honey, add water, boil, cool, pitch yeast. The only thing that holds me back is the bottle conditioning period, which is somewhere between "when your bottles start collecting a good deal of dust" to "after retirement." Mead just gets better as it ages, and the character of the mead changes depending on the type of honey used (clover, fruit blossoms, etc.).

The beer I tried for this week's review is one that, intentionally or otherwise, looks to bridge a gap between mead and beer. This is Thomas Creek Brewery's (Orange Blossom Pilsner. Despite being brewed in South Carolina, it is subtitled "Florida's Honey Beer. The base beer is a Pilsner, with orange blossom honey added for alcohol and flavor. I've seen, and had, plenty of honey beers in my drinking career, so I am always happy to give them a try. The right kind of honey can add a nice flavor to a beer without affecting the body much, and it usually dries a beer out a bit.

This beer Thomas Creek's OBP poured a crystal-clear golden body with orange hues to it. Light effervescence yielded a thin, pure-white head which dissipated quickly. As I drank it, it did leave white wine-like "legs" down the glass.

Putting the glass to my nose, I did detect some "classic" lighter pilsner aromas: grainy, malty, with a smattering of floral and slightly spicy hops. The beer did have a honey-sweetness on top of it all, but not in such a way as to overpower the pils.

The taste was a decent blend of classic pilsner with noticeable honey sweetness added. It was grainy, slightly earthy and spicy, and sweet (malty and sugary). Interestingly, the lingering aftertaste was oranges. Not citrusy, like so many beers described on this blog, but very specifically orangey. The lightly-tart orange and honey sweetness grew as the beer progressed, along with the pleasant floral notes and mellow maltiness of a pils.

OBP was very light-bodied with moderate carbonation. It is a very quaffable beer, especially for hot summer days on your back deck. I have read some other reviews of this beer, and many of them are highly critical, given that this beer relies on a heavy adjunct (honey) to achieve its flavors and strength. Sure, Miller and those beers use rice and corn as a way to add fermentable sugar without adding color or other flavors. But to compare this beer, which is quite drinkable (though not the greatest beer I have ever tried), with those beers simply on the basis that the brewer used an adjunct is to miss what the brewer was trying to do. It's the South. Huge, black, roasty beers just aren't as popular down there. They grow oranges. They made a marketable, drinkable beer using what is considered the symbol of Florida (outside the stupid alligators). Again, while it's not an earth-shattering beer of immense creativity, I would definitely grab one of these on a sunny afternoon.


Sopor 10:25 AM  

Yay beer review!

This stuff sounds pretty decent! This isn't the type of beer I think I would normally get, but it sounds like it could totally hit the spot on a hot spring or summer afternoon... like today after a round or two of disc golf!

Did you pick this up locally?

And on the subject of meads... I tried the Orange Blossom Mead from B Nektar Meadery down in Ferndale the other day. Best mead I've ever had! It was still, on the wine-like end of the mead spectrum, but it had the most impressive, almost overpowering but not..., real honey flavor of any mead I have ever had! I was quite impressed.

Rickey Henderson 3:30 PM  

So if Winnie the Pooh had a drinking problem, this would be his libation of choice?

steves 3:53 PM  

I tried some mead in Ireland and thought it tasted like ass. Maybe it was just a lousy mead, but I just didn't like it, which is surprising, since there really aren't many kinds of alcohol I don't like.

Mike 7:50 PM  

I had some at the Boston Beer Festival )or something similarly titled) in 1996. Loved it.

Of course the guys stuck in the same car as me the next day probably have different memories.

(That may be because I sucked down about 100 bier du garde as well.

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