Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

26 October, 2015

Now let's show them what our Spectra beer can really do!: Spectra Trifecta by Founders Brewing Co.

I don't believe I've ever reviewed a beer by Founders before. This is probably because I don't drink much of their beer although Red's Rye is probably my favorite IPA. Sadly, that beer went draft only back in the spring of 2013.

At about the same time that Red's Rye bottles began to go unfilled, Founders became a sponsor of ArtPrize, an annual art competition in Grand Rapids, MI, Founders' hometown. Each year the brewery brews a special beer in honor of ArtPrize with proceeds from sales going to the competition. This year the brewery gives up Spectra Trifecta, a Kölsch brewed with chamomile, lemongrass, and ginger.

The Kölsch is a rather underutilized brewing canvas, if you will. The style is not about big, domineering flavors wrecking your palate; it's about trying to find some kind of balance amongst a bit of cracker flavor from the malt, some fruitiness from the yeast, and hops. It just has a certain simplicity that lends itself well to running roughshod over Reinheitsgebot. In theory, anyway. Flat 12 Bierwerks has a Cucumber Kölsch (which I rather liked) and didn't Vintage Brewing here in Madison add some sumac to Sister Golden Ale a year or two ago?

Spectra Trifecta is a bit darker than your average Kölsch being a slightly deeper yellow than most I've come across. It was hazy and, curiously enough, had an abundance of particulate matter – lots of small white flecks. Up top it had a nice, foamy white head that lasted only a short time. However, there were many a bubble making its way up the glass.

The beer had a potent aroma as I could smell it when the glass was nowhere near my nose. I caught the pleasing mélange of sweet, floral chamomile and spicy ginger. The botanicals were also quite prominent in the taste. The chamomile tasted less sweet than it smelled and so its floral flavor was highlighted. The ginger tasted raw and pungent while the lemongrass played a more supporting role with its sharp, citrus taste being rather subdued. Carbonation added a little bite. Underneath all of that I could discern some cracker-like malt flavor along with a hint of the fruitiness from the yeast. Not much in the way of hops to be had. It was crisp and clean, having been fermented at cold temperatures and had a nice light body.

At the finish the lemongrass came out from behind the shadow of its botanical brethren to take a much more prominent place while the ginger and chamomile slowly faded. There was also some bitterness here that was reminiscent of strong black tea. It was like mix of herbal hops and chamomile. There was just a minimal amount of Schaumhaftvermoegen left on the sides of my glass.

Where was this beer over the summer? At 5.9% A.B.V. it's not a session beer but the piquant botanicals here add a rich, zestiness to the beer that would have been perfect in the sun. Chamomile adds wonderful floral taste while ginger and lemongrass add sharper, citrusy flavors. Spectra Trifecta is more gruit than Kölsch, I suppose, as the malt, hops, and yeast flavors are all rather subdued. Having been lagered, the botanicals are a bit more distinctive here than in more traditional-minded gruits I've had.

Junk food pairing: Spectra Trifecta goes well with guacamole, especially if you scoop it up with lime flavored tortilla chips.

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|| Palmer, 3:31 PM


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