For the first time ever I feature a beer from Sweden and then I’ll showcase a local brew as well.
I believe in the old adage of ladies first, so I’ll start with Omnipollo’s Bianca.
As I said above, Omnipollo is the first Swedish brewery to be featured on BBG. They are, like all big European breweries seem to be, a phantom brewery – meaning they use other breweries to create their beers. They started back in 2011 and have been considered one of the worlds best breweries ever since.
Their stuff is still pretty rare to find in my neck of the woods, but they do have distribution across the US. Over their short time, they’ve created hundreds of beers across every imaginable style.
Recently I found their Bianca at a local liquor store. At $12 for a four pack, it was a little more expensive than most…but, for how often I see them, I figured what the hell.
Bianca is a gose that was brewed at Buxton Brewery in northern England. But this isn’t just a typical gose. It has the added bonus of rock salt, mango, and lactose to add some salty/sweetness to the otherwise sour style. She’s also no slouch, containing 6% alcohol…which is pretty solid for a gose.
It poured a crisp, clear golden amber color with about a finger of white head building upward. The foam quickly fizzled down into a small white dusting of snow atop the bright liquid.
On the nose this beer had that tart sour aroma that almost all gose beers have. But, due to those extra ingredients, there was also a calming sweetness from the lactose and those citrusy notes from the mango that blended in to the beer nicely.
My first taste of Bianca began with a very light fizz of carbonation before those sour notes kick in. Luckily, it wasn’t a very harsh tartness…just light pucker before the rest of the flavors poured out onto my tongue. Mid pucker the lactose arrived with a great sweet taste that cut into the sour, immediately calming down my reflex to make that sour face.
Then, halfway through the sip, the mango and lactose really pop with a burst of citrusy sweetness that cuts into the sour without masking or eliminating it. I was amazed at how well the bonus ingredients blended into this sour without compromising any of the flavors.
On the backend, as everything starts to fade, the mango lingers just a bit longer than all the other components, leaving you with a nice tropical aftertaste that last for a few moments. As the mango lingers, the rock salt comes out as well. It’s just enough to cut into the tart/fruity flavors and calm everything down as the sip ends. A perfect touch.
Some gose beers can really dry out your mouth but not this one. It has a dash of dryness at the end (from the salt) but mostly it’s the mango sweetness hanging around after all is said and done.
As I continued to gulp down this beer, the few bubbles that remained did nothing to lace my glass at all. There was a lone cloud slowly sliding down the glass and nothing else. And that 6% ABV, which is incredibly high for a gose (usually they’re between 4-5%), remained hidden entirely.
Overall this could be one of my favorite sour beers. It has an amazing balance between the sour, sweet, fruity, and salty components that made it a great drink. Nothing was overpowered by any other ingredient and it all worked so well together. If you find this beer, don’t hesitate. Get it.
For the local option I didn’t have a tough time choosing.
Chicago is home to a ton of breweries…many of which are good. Spiteful is one of those good breweries that, unfortunately for me, sometimes gets lost among my favorites. I have yet to have a beer from them I didn’t really enjoy…but I also haven’t had as many of their beers as I should’ve.
They’ve been selling beer from Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood for just about five years (opened in November of 2012) and have been climbing the ranks of the beer scene here ever since. Spiteful doesn’t offer a lot of year round beers…just four beers that they call “The Staples” (those brewed on a regular basis)…the rest of their inventory are small batch beers that sell out quickly.
I realized I had yet to try their staple IPA – simply titled Spiteful IPA.
Spiteful is now on to their second version of their IPA. You can check which one you have by the color on the can (the former has brown and orange diamonds while the new has red and black diamonds). The newest/current version is made with Amarillo and Citra hops and comes with a 6.2% ABV and around 60 IBU. A six pack of cans runs the typical $10.
This IPA poured a bright golden color. A huge foam barrier built up, almost three fingers high of airy white bubbles separated me from the liquid below. The head didn’t last terribly long; just a minute or two before I could easily access the beer underneath.
On the nose there is a heavy pine/nut aroma as well as bready malt. Behind the malt and earthy notes, however, are some bright citrus scents – mango, grapefruit, passion fruit, ect. It smelled pretty balanced for an IPA.
My first taste followed the aroma almost perfectly. Up front there is a flash of carbonation and then the flavors come out. The big pine nut flavor hits first and mixes with the crackery malt to create a rather smooth beer. On the backend of the sip, those citrus notes pop up just long enough to say hello before they leave you with a nice clean finish.
That clean finish meant every taste ended with very little dryness and just a hint of pine lingering on my taste buds.
As the beer is excavated from my glass, the bubbles don’t leave so easily. One whole side became covered in clouds…the clingy foam lacing my glass really well.
Spiteful has made a really well balanced beer here. I can see why it’s one of their regularly brewed beers and why people think so highly of it (and them). For me, there is just a bit too much of that pine/nutty/earthy tone to it…I would have like to have more of the citrus but I’m a citra-holic. Otherwise, it’s a slam dunk. Flavorful, balanced, easy to drink, and tasty.
Spiteful is one of the most consistently delicious breweries I’ve found here in Chicago (along with Marz, Mikerphone, and Maplewood). Be sure to check them out.