Starting this Thursday, May 10th, Zauber Brewing will be offering growler sales from their brewery at 1300 Norton Avenue in Grandview. Sales will run every week 4-8pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Zauber will also continue to offer food trucks at the same times, a lineup of which can be found on their website.
If you haven’t heard of Zauber, don’t worry — they just started selling beer a little over a month ago, kicking things off by taking patrons on an innovative tasting tour of the city. Geoff Towne, brewmaster, offered up T-shirts, tap handles, and the chance to win a free keg to those who were able to punch their passports for all five beers (approximately 15-20 finished, myself included). This gave Geoff the opportunity to gather plenty of feedback about his beer. “You never have people tell you to your face that something sucks, but the fact that the buyers were happy makes you feel good,” he said.
For what it’s worth, I also thought his beers were pretty good (and so did everyone I talked to along the way). But the better news is this: the two beers available this weekend by the growler, Stodgy Brown and Buxom Blonde, were the real standouts of the lineup.
Here are my reviews for four of the Z beers (you can find my review of the fifth, Vertigo hefeweizen, here), in order of how much I enjoyed them:
Buxom Blonde // Belgian blonde // 5.5% ABV // 30 IBU
Buxom Blonde is a hazy yellow beer with a thin head, possessing a powerful aroma of cloves, bananas, Belgian funk and something suggestive of berry jam. Up front you taste sweet bananas and honey, followed by spicy cloves accentuated with continental hops. It’s creamy, tingly, and well-carbonated. This beer pulls off much the same trick as Four String’s Backstage Blonde — it’s complex enough to keep my interest, but light enough to down a pitcher. By the way, this is what I’ll be buying a growler of Thursday.
Stodgy Brown // German alt // 5.2% ABV // 38 IBU
On the whole, the hopheads are going to be disappointed in Zauber. At 38 IBUs, it’s not going to strip the enamel off your teeth like Ruination, but this is Zauber’s hoppy beer. And it’s quite good. It’s a hazy brown beer (you’ll notice a trend with ‘hazy’ — Geoff’s beer is unfiltered) with no head and light carbonation. There’s a hint of diacetyl in the nose, with a prevailing grassy, piney hop aroma and just a hint of raisins. The hops come through with a more floral taste than the aroma suggests, and there’s a strong mineral finish with a hint of iron. The minerality of the finish intensifies as it dries on the palate, accentuating the hop bitterness. To my mind, this is the defining characteristic of all Z beers, but it’s more prominent in Stodgy Brown than the others.
Magnum Opus // Belgian copper ale // 5.4% ABV // 23 IBU
Similar to Buxom Blonde, this has a strong Belgian signature in the aroma, with dark candi sugar, earthy yeast, fruity banana esters, and a hint of sourness. It pours a murky hazelnut brown with no head (there were lots of carbonation issues on the tasting tour…), and has a malty taste that reminds me of wheat. There’s a hint of clove phenols and some cherry-like esters, brown sugar, a slight barnyard funk, and light spiciness from the hops. As with the others, there’s a minerality to the finish that intensifies as it dries on the palate. If you order one of these, let it warm up a bit — I thought it was a bit bland at first but it grew on me as it warmed.
Myopic Red // German red alt // 5% ABV // 16 IBU
This was the first stop on the tasting tour, and Geoff was having a lot of issues with carbonation. I managed to catch the keg on the upswing, and got my beer just as the tap started pouring foam — netting me a creamy, medium to full bodied beer. The beer was a cloudy red-brown with an awful lot of yeast in the bottom (again, no filtration). The aroma was very light, with notes of caramel malt and cherry-like esters. The flavor follows the nose, with stone fruit esters and nutty malt and just a trace of hop spiciness in the background. The spiciness reminds me of rye malt, though there’s none in the grain bill. The highlights of this beer are its satisfyingly long finish (akin to Stodgy Brown) and creamy mouthfeel. It’s a pleasant, easy-drinking beer, but a little boring for my tastes. (Interesting note: I talked to Geoff and he explained that the taste most people perceive as cherry in foods is actually almonds, and this is a trick brewers often play with cherry beers. So while I describe this beer as having a cherry-like flavor, Geoff would simply call it nutty.)
In addition to growlers, you can also find kegs at Gentile’s, or find Zauber on tap via their Facebook page.