Thursday, August 15, 2013
Ruhstaller = Awesome
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may recall a post I did a few weeks ago in which I absolutely shredded a Black IPA from Ruhstaller called The Captain. The reviews I had read of the beer on beeradvocate were pretty solid, but the can I got definitely was not. It was the first beer I had ever tried from Ruhstaller, and so I wrote my review, made a mental note to never buy anything with the Ruhstaller name on it again, and went on to other beers. Then something crazy happened.
About a week after the review of The Captain was posted, I noticed that someone had commented on the post. I clicked on the comment and my heart skipped a few beats when I saw what it said:
This is JE Paino, I'm the owner of Ruhstaller.
Obscenities raced through my head before I could read another word. I had annihilated this guy's hard work and I probably deserved whatever I had coming my way. Bracing for the worst, I read on:
Thank you so much for your honest feedback.
Whaaaat? I torched his beer and he's thanking me??? I read on and was astonished. Not only did he take complete ownership for the bad can I had purchased, he offered to send me a replacement along with some "upcoming and experimental beers for my review and feedback." Pretty awesome stuff. What was even more awesome was a few weeks later, when I received a cooler full of beer from Ruhstaller. It's not unheard of for breweries to replace bad cans or bottles for customers, but getting a cooler full of beer for one bad can? These guys are the best! I recently finished going through all of the Ruhstaller offerings I received and here are some of the highlights.
Hands down the best of the bunch and the best Kolsch I've ever come across. Smells of light cereal grains and faint fruity and citrusy esters with a hint of concord grape. The taste opens with a light kiss of grassy hops and then progresses to a smooth, drawn out pale malt and fruity yeast note. Finished clean with a grassy hop bite. It's light, approachable and perhaps the perfect beer for a hot summer's day. I would love more of this beer. (Side note: I just saw a post on Ruhstaller's Facebook page saying that this beer was just bottled. I highly recommend trying this one if you cross paths with it.)
Final Grade: A
Most of Ruhstaller's beers tend to be lighter styles that are good for hotter weather, so I was surprised to find a 9% Tripel in the bunch. I'm glad that they sent this my way, though, because it's very good. It carries the classic tripel smells of wheat, Belgian yeast, candi sugar and dates. The taste opens with a sweet, Belgian yeast flavor and then delves into notes of dates, brown sugar and some bubblegum with just a hint of booze. One of the better tripels I've come across.
Final Grade: A-
I'm happy to report that my second time around with this beer was much more enjoyable than the first. Unlike the first can I tried, this can had a good amount of hops in the smell, alongside an almost buttery molasses note and some chocolate. I could also smell some hints of pine, citrus rind and toasted bread. The taste opened with some light pine and then moved to a bready malt middle with hints of toast, molasses, cocoa and some roast before an herbal hop finish. The beer is a bit more on the malty end of the spectrum than I prefer in Black IPAs, but it's still a good representation of the style and miles better than the can I tasted a few weeks ago. I'm really glad I was able to try this one again.
Final Grade: B
Kuchinski Hop Ranch California Blonde Ale
Grown with hops from local farmers, this was a good representation of what Ruhstaller's beers are all about. A crisp, grainy aroma with a nice floral hop note and something that reminded me of jammy red cherries. The taste opens with a clean, grainy note with a floral hop backbone. Finish brings some biscuit and a touch of buttery, bready malt, but tempers it nicely with some good floral hop resin. This is a keeper.
Final Grade: B+
1881 (Orphan Hops)
I was sent a few test batch samples, including a version of their red ale, 1881 brewed with Orphan hops. I'm not familiar with Orphan hops and I couldn't find anything about them online, so I'm not sure if they're a new varietal or if "Orphan Hops" means that they threw a bunch of random leftover hops into a kettle for this one. Either way, I liked it. The smell is very earthy, with a slight mustiness/nuttiness to it. The hops smelled a touch citrusy with a hint of mango and crusty bread on the backend. The taste is smooth, with a good balance of earthy hops and bready malt. Hints of rye and day old coffee as well as a slight nuttiness.
Final Grade: B+
Overall, I was really impressed with everything that Ruhstaller sent my way. They've put together a pretty solid lineup of brews, most of which are fantastic summer beers. A huge thanks to JE Paino and his team up in Sacramento for their hard work and generosity. I'm really glad I got to enjoy all of these and I can't wait to see what they do next.
Top 250 Beers Tasted: 129