Thursday, July 21, 2016

No Need For Modesty: Modist Brewing Review

Based on the number of disappointing first visits to new breweries I've suffered through over the past few years, I now rarely visit a brewery unless it's been open over 6 months.  Every once in a while I hear enough positive reviews from people I trust, that I'll break this rule and check them out.  Modist Brewing is one of these breweries.  Open since April 2016, this North Loop brewery is located very close to Fulton's taproom--giving you just one more reason to visit the area!

The brewery was started by four friends: Keigan Knee (head brewer), John Donnelly (head of sales), Eric Paredes (chief manager), Kale Anderson (operations manager).  I haven't met these guys but I'd like to!  Their website set-up and pictures certainly point to a great sense of humor...

This particular Saturday, we had two friends in from Colorado and wanted to show them around some of our favorite watering holes.  Since we were already at Fulton, we decided to sprint through the rain to the Modist Taproom.  Why not right?

The open and spacious taproom was busy but not insane, with only a short wait for beers.  The brewery itself is off to the right as you come in the door, a colorful bluish glow reflecting up from the floor upon the shiny stainless conical fermenters.  There's also an open patio area that was empty on this trip due to pouring rain.  At one point I thought I saw someone riding a bike around inside the circle of equipment, but by the time I grabbed for my camera he was gone--like a strange hipster brewery ghost.

The Beers

I can be in the fanciest taproom ever, but if the beer doesn't please me I'm done.  Let the beers stand for themselves... I rate on a 0-5 scale with 3 being a decent beer, 4 a favorite, and 5 is the best in its class.  I'm a tough grader.

1) Toats:  A 4.8 % ABV beer made with 60% oats.  60% oats??!!  Wow.  Deep amber to orange color.  Aroma and flavor I get citrus fruit, intense maltiness.  Medium mouthfeel.  Somewhat astringent finish to it.  3.75

2) Smoove:  5.5% ABV, salted caramel lager.  A very interesting take on the salted caramel craze, using caramel malts and sea salt in the brewing process.  For this review I've brought in a guest reviewer...

Ode to Smoove Beer
By Smoove B, Love Man

"Girl, this beer was made for Smoove.  With a color and glow like your sweet caramel skin, this makes me want to take you in my arms and then into my giant round bed with the mirrors on the ceiling.  The sweet sweet taste of milky caramel fairly explodes from my glass, reminding me of you, my one true love.  You know what I'm talking about.  You remember the Love Man.  And the Love Man remembers you.  After stalking you across the veldt of my mind, taking you down with my lion-like majesty, I finish this ode to a graceful beer.  I finish with a salty surprise on the end like the leftover sweat of our love, or the briny taste of Smoove's tears as you leave me once more.  Damn!"

Thanks Smoove B!  I couldn't have said it better myself.  I like the crisp lager finish on this one.  I give it a solid 4.

3) 100% Wheat:  A wheat beer using 100% wheat.  I had to ask our bartender how they managed to make this without clogging up the mash-tun.  Bonus points to her for knowing the answer--she said they have a hammer mill and special equipment to handle the fine grind.  Wheat has no husk, so can't be used like barley to act as its own filter--making beers with more than 50% wheat very difficult to handle without creating  a thick solid mass of wheat glue.  So by using a fine grind and (I'm assuming here) a special fine filter, they can get better extraction of sugars and get around the clogging issue.  Some of the large macro breweries use this technique, but I don't know of many other craft breweries doing it.  I'm guessing this is how they managed the 60% oats in Toats as well.

The beer was well hopped and citrusy with a hazy appearance.  4

4) Phresh: 4.5% ABV tart ale with Ella, Equinox, and Hull Melon hops.  I picked up crazy melon flavors like honeydew, as well as grapefruit, with a hint of melon rind funkiness.  Slight tartness.  A unique beer for sure and very rePhreshing (trademark that!)  I actually hate melon, but this beer uses that flavor in a perfect way. 3.75

5) First Call: A pale lager infused with Two Cousins Espresso.  This version was also infused with vanilla bean.  I picked up insane light roast coffee aroma off the bat.  Flavor was similarly overtaken by fresh cold-press coffee.  I picked up mild vanilla and some maltiness on the tail end.  Wow!  Other than Birch's Coffee Chocolate Golden Ale I haven't had a better light colored coffee beer.  This was the winner for the whole group of us.  4.5

6) Wasteland:  Made with 60% Rye (see a pattern yet?) and Apollo, Cascade, and Columbus hops.  This is a rye IPA with a dry spicy and citrus zing.  The finish is a bit rough and astringent for me.  My least favorite of the group but still decent.  3.5

Forget being polite to new breweries.  These guys had been open 3 months at the time of this tasting and and are putting out high quality and boundary pushing beers!  Most are lower gravity beers, allowing one to have a couple beers before rolling out, and all are very drinkable.  They are making good use of their special brewhouse to use those accessory/adjunct grains to their utmost.

We had a great time here, hiding out from the increasing rainstorm, sipping finely crafted beers.  I would love to go back and highly recommend them.

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