Friday, April 5, 2013

The Bruery - Tai Kao

Recently, I became a Reserve Society Member at one of my favorite breweries, The Bruery. Basically, this entitles me to some awesome bottles of beer from them through the year, along with a really good excuse to go to The Bruery as often as possible. I'll be reviewing a lot of The Bruery's great beers throughout this year, but I can already tell that none of them will be quite as strange as one I tried this weekend, Tai Kao.

Tai Kao is a new beer (beer cocktail?) from the Bruery that attempts to meld two very different drinks- beer and Thai iced tea. To make it look and taste like a real Thai iced tea, the uncarbonated, 8% base beer is poured over coconut milk and then ice cubes are added. I wasn't sure if I wanted to try this one before I got to The Bruery's tasting room this weekend, but when I saw how crazy it looked, I had to do it.

Tai Kao pours a thick, impermeable carrot juice-color with a rich light orange head. The head may not have been big in size, but it was dense as hell and it left thick lace spackled down the sides of the glass like drywall. The smell was musty and earthy with a big smack of sweetness from the coconut milk. I also picked up some hay, shaved carrots and a faint jasmine rice aroma. Interesting...

The taste starts in a sweet, very Thai iced tea-tasting direction. Condensed milk and black tea mixed with sugar cubes definitely comes on strong at first. But just when you start to wonder what happened to the beer in your Thai iced tea beer, a strong fermented wheat bread flavor shows up and pulls the sweetness back like crazy. There's a bit of an off-tasting farmhouse funk flavor in there as well before the return of the sweeter flavors, highlighted by some creamy coconut milk. What really caught me off guard came after the finish, when I noticed that the beer had left my mouth as dry as a bone. What a strange beer!

Everything about this beer both confused and amazed me. It's been almost a week since I tried it and I'm still trying to decide whether I liked it or not. For that reason (and because I feel strange reviewing what's really more of a beer cocktail), I'm not going to be giving this beer a grade. However, I will say that if your travels take you near The Bruery in the near future, it's worth popping in to try this one. Tai Kao really is one of a kind. For better or worse.

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 116

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