The Show Me State is home to quite a few emerging breweries. We've featured 4 Hands on here a few times before but this week I have a new beer from a smaller brewery: Urban Chestnut.
This week, a friend of mine brought me back some beer on her recent trip to Missouri...and I'm finding out that St. Louis is home to quite a few rising breweries, like Urban Chestnut here.
Urban Chestnut was founded in 2010 by two friends who brew beer with their philosophy of Beer Divergence which, according to their Facebook page, is "a ‘new world meets old world' brewing approach" where they combine the timeless European beer styles and modern American styles. Right now you can only find Urban Chestnut in Missouri and parts of Illinois (mostly Southern Illinois from what I've found).
Their Fantasyland is a "Midwest Coast" IPA made with five different hops (Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo, and Nelson Sauvin). It pours a clear copper color with just over a finger of thick bubbly head on top.
The aroma is mostly bready malts with some pine lingering in the background. There is a slight citrus smell hiding in the background that I hope makes an appearance in the taste. I was surprised that, with that many hops inside, this beer smelled as malty as it did.
When I tasted Fantasyland the hops were there. There is a nice bitterness to it (clocks in at 60 IBU) and a solid flavor as well.
The bready malts start off the sip before the hops take over on the backend. The hops provide a spicy/grassy/citrusy kick to the backend, with pine and grapefruit flavors combining into a decent ending to this beer.
Fantasyland has a medium body and very little carbonation and, as I drank it down, the thick head left nice big blotches of foam around my glass.
However, the more I drank the more the bready malts invaded the hoppy ending of each sip. Not that the hops disappeared but, rather, the citrus flavor did; so I was left with a hop bitterness combined with a bread taste. It was interesting to say the least.
The 6.5% ABV is hidden nicely and the price is rather decent as well, costing around $9.99 for a four-pack of 16.9-ounce (500 mL) bottles.
For me, this was a good beer but wasn't amazing. I would love to try more from Urban Chestnut (and hopefully I'll get the chance). This one, however, left me wanting something more. 7.5/10
And as everyone knows Missouri loves company, we didn't want to end it with just one review. So up next, Carter is back with another great beer from the Mitten.
Good Humans is an annual winter release from Short's, and some reviews have suggested that this year's release is better than their usual -- which is pretty damn good to begin with. The label lists it as a "dry hopped double brown ale".
The first whiff is a citrus odor, not the grapefruit scent that tends to be characteristic of American IPAs, but more like an orange, with a hint of chocolate. A follow-up smell reinforces the impression of chocolate.
The mouthfeel is tangy and well-carbonated - not dissimilar to Short's flagship IPA, Huma Lupa Licious - but the taste is something entirely different.
The flavor upon drinking leans more toward coffee rather than chocolate as the smell suggested. Part of that is bitterness, which although not that high, certainly tastes like a bit more than the listed 19 IBU, and part of that is from a lack of sweetness. [Note: Some sources list it as 19 IBU, while others list 40. Based on the flavor, I'd guess that the latter is more accurate.]
If it were a summer release, it would go well with s'mores, but given that it's a winter release, I'd pair it with some fudge from northern Michigan or consider mixing it into an adult hot chocolate.
Based on this bottle, and my recollection from years past, I'd be inclined to agree that Short's has done something just a little different this year and whatever change they made, it worked.
If you're looking for a good seasonal beer now that Christmas beers are disappearing from stores, this one's worth a shot. Unfortunately Short's doesn't really distribute beyond Michigan, but throughout the Mitten you can probably find a six-pack for about $10.