Muis – Galaxy Hopped
Phantom Carriage Brewery
Most brewery taprooms look the same—a row of taps, high ceilings, natural lighting, lots of stainless. Not Phantom Carriage: the place is decorated with scythes and other rusty farm implements stabbed into the walls. Based in Carson, California (an LA suburb), the brewery has a horror-show vibe that’s only increased by its super-low, vampire coven-style lighting (much of the light comes from fake candles placed inside fake human and animal skulls) and the “Phantom Theater,” which is visible from the bar and plays a rotating lineup of spooky movies. Go visit—it’s rad. And when you do, be sure to pick up a bottle of Muis, a 6.5% ABV Belgian blonde ale fermented solely with Brettanomyces yeast. Sunshine-yellow and brightly effervescent, the brew sends off aromas of honeydew melon, mango, guava, spearmint and funky white onion skin that are so well-married it’s tough to tell where the hops end and the wild yeast begins. Its pepper, lemon, pear and menthol flavors land on the tongue, all rounded with musty notes, before white pepper settles in at the mildly bitter finish. While the beer tastes a little hot for its 6.7% ABV, it’s also one of the better examples of the marriage of hops and Brett funk you’re likely to find anywhere.
Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Let’s get something straight about the Kentucky Common: Though the historic beer style was brewed in the region of the country where Bourbon distillers built their whiskeys with sour mash, it was probably, maybe, almost definitely not sour. Brewing historians haven’t been able to find any records from the time the KC was brewed (shortly after the Civil War right up until Prohibition) that suggest it was acidic—in fact, most documents imply it was brewed to ferment and be sold before it would even have a chance to become sour. Nevertheless, most modern examples do tend to exhibit a mild lactic tartness, like this one from Louisville’s Against the Grain does, and that’s not a bad thing at all. In the nose, pleasant raspberry tartness mixes with sweet cocoa powder, cola and oily pecans; the flavor likewise blends soft cherries and balsamic vinegar with cocoa and nuts. Deeper grape notes and brown sugar emerge mid-palate, while sooty malts cushion the tartness at the sip and bring forward dark, dusty chocolate and tobacco flavors at the finish. If the brewers of yore left sourness out of these brews, they didn’t know what they were missing.