If you’re looking for new beer options at local restaurants and retail outlets, here are a few I should bring to your attention.
Last week’s draft intro of four offerings from Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing sure proved people are eager for more. I’ve never seen Mellow Mushroom (St. Matthews) as packed—nearly cheek to jowl—as when it hosted a “keep the glass” night for the rollout of SweetWater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale, SweetWater Blue and SweetWater IPA.
I gave up hope of interviewing a SweetWater representative there after about five minutes of encroaching deafness amid the din of the crowd. (Those walls hadn’t endured so much noise since its previous home, Dutch’s Tavern, had live music!) Bad place to conduct an interview, I thought, so I finished my SweetWater Blue and headed for a quieter haunt. Despite my old guy aversion to loud bars, there’s no denying that was one heck of a party.
Luckily for me, I’d been sent press samples of the three beers to try at home. All are good, though none particularly bold. Entering a market with approachable offerings is a sensible strategy.
If you like wheat beers with a unique twist, Blue is for you. It’s simple and refreshing, very light bodied and the blueberry dose is a background note, not sweet or insipid.
The company calls the IPA “a mammoth India Pale Ale,” but I’d not agree—and I’m not even a big hop fan. When brewers are way too consumed with punch-in-the-face palate scrubbers, this one is a welcome departure that’s acceptably balanced and not overly bitter. Just good notes of pine and citrus you’d expect from an IPA. In fact, if you’re just testing the IPA waters, try this one (as well as West 6th’s excellent version.)
The 420 Extra Pale Ale was my fave of the trio. A well balanced and highly reliable EPA standard I’ve had when traveling in the south. It’s really good paired with food, though just fine on its own. Lots of flavor here.
You can find them all at Mellow Mushroom St. Mathew’s (3922 Shelbyville Road), River City Draft House (1574 Bardstown Road), Highland Tap Room Grill (1058 Bardstown Road) and Monkey Wrench (1025 Barret Ave.)
And speaking of ales, Goose Island delivered a new one to market this week: Ten Hills Pale Ale. Reportedly one of three beers in its limited release series, this one is a dandy that, while not an IPA, could fool some into thinking it is because of upfront spicy hop flavors of pine and grapefruit. But after few drinks, a seasoned palate will recognize it lacks the needling sharpness of an IPA (it’s a very manageable 48 IBU) and conclude it’s just a swell pale ale with excellent body and mouthfeel.
As a longtime Goose Island fan (circa 1996), I’d say it’s as good as any of that brand’s beers I’ve had yet. Not all this Chicago brewery’s products are being produced by majority owner Anheuser-Busch, so it’s still producing some really unique and good stuff.
This easy drinker is on some shelves now around town (I don’t have the list yet, so call around before you go driving for it.)
Lastly, Gordon Biersch on Fourth Street Live! just tapped its seasonal WinterBock lager. According to a news release, the brew is dark and full-bodied with caramel overtones, toffee maltiness “and a hint of holiday spirit.”
I’m not sure what holiday spirit tastes like, but GB does a really nice job producing correct-to-style beers, so I’m sure it’s a good sipper.
The brewery-restaurant will host an official party for the new beer on Dec. 5, beginning at 6 p.m.