Fearful Symmetries

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08 August, 2016

Measuring a Summer's Day: Tangelino by Hop Haus Brewing & Vintage Brewing



Back in late June Scott Manning from Vintage Brewing made a trek out to Verona where he met up with Phil Hoechst, brewmaster of Hop Haus to ostensibly brew a collaboration beer. But, from my experience, these so-called "collaborations" are nothing more than excuses for brewers to get drunk and shoot the shit with one another while they bark orders at minions to do the real work. And some lucky brewers get to leave their brewhouse for a spell. They are the brewing equivalent of the kaffeeklatch which surely makes such an event a bierklatch.

The end result of that early summer wang dang doodle was a beer called Tangelino. Scott described it to me as a hybrid brew that was part APA and part saison. "Brewed with clementines and cubeb peppercorns. Aged on pureed Tangelos and dry hopped with Citra and Waimea hops." It had been a long time since I last cooked with cubebs so I was really keen on trying this brew.

Cubebs are a Javanese peppercorn. I am not sure if it originated in Indonesia or simply flourished there. Regardless, it was a staple spice in medieval Europe. To my taste, it's like black pepper but with a little citrus to it and I think it would be wonderful in a pilsner should any brewing types out there need a challenge.

I had to look up Waimea hops and found that they had the aroma of "intense tangelo". Tangelino is a just a citrus fiesta with real fruit as well as fruity hops. However, I knew none of this on a recent visit to the Hop Haus. If memory serves, the menu simply described Tangelino as a "citrus saison".

Tangelino poured a hazy yellow. My glass of it was part of a flight and, by the time I got it to our table, it had only smattering of white foam on top. There were a few bubbles to be had inside.

The beer's aroma was full of doughy, malt sweetness interlaced with overtones of allspice from the cubebs. Ha! I keed, I keed. It was first and foremost a blast of citrus. I'd imagine that if I ever were to take a tour of the Tropicana factory, it would smell like this. Behind the Citric Wall was some sweetly scented tropical fruit as well as a little grass/earthiness which I took to be the cubebs fighting their way out from behind all that fruit.

It should hardly comes as a surprise that Tangelino had a big citrus taste. But it was sweet rather than tart. I don't know that I've ever had a tangelo so I cannot honestly say how much of the flavor was that fruit vs the Clementines vs. the hops. Think sweet, juicy orange/tangerine as opposed to grapefruit or lemon. There was a modicum of bitterness and some honeyed sweetness which tasted malty. As the beer warmed the cubebs came out of the shadows and added a nice, mellow pepper flavor.

The fruit and sweetness fade to a dry, wine-like finish laced with a spicy bitterness and some zesty pepper from the cubebs. A couple large patches of foam lined my glass along with specks everywhere.

As someone who avoids Citra hops and citrus eyepahs like The Plague, I thought Tangelino was a fine beer...for me to poop on!

I keed, I keed.

As someone who avoids Citra hops and citrus eyepahs like The Plague, I thought Tangelino was pretty tasty. My wife and I agreed, however, that it wasn't very saison-like, at least as far as our amateur palates were concerned. It didn't have the fruity yeasty flavors that we associate with the style. Still, there was French saison yeast used here. I probably could have quaffed a whole pint, though that would likely be my quota. It reminded me of Wisconsin Brewing Company's Nectarine and S'Wheat Caroline in that all three beers have a lager-like malt taste – clean with no yeasty flavors getting in the way of fruit-flavored hops and, in this case, real fruit.

I was surprised at how Tangelino retained a fairly light body amidst all the fruity sweetness. It never got cloying and I think this is at least partly due to the carbonation, the dry finish, and the cubebs which offered an earthy contrast to all the citrus. At 7.3% A.B.V. Tangelino has some heft but it drinks like a much lighter brew and really hit the spot on a summer's day.

Junk food pairing: If you're keen on emphasizing the fruit then get your hands on a box of Hostess Orange Cup Cakes and amp up the citrus sweetness. Personally I would help out the underdog cubebs and pair Tangelino with salt and pepper potato chips.

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|| Palmer, 6:11 AM

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