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Post from jack | around
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By now it’s no secret that Eric Warner and the folks over at Karbach Brewing have brought some excellent beer to market. I was able to try their first two offerings, the Hopadillo IPA and Weisse Versa Wheat, when the Karbach crew visited the Petrol Station. But Houstonians have the opportunity to visit the Karbach team at the source now that the brewery has begun weekly tours. Saturday tours are expected to draw crowds so visitors are encouraged to register online early to ensure a spot. This past Friday, however, I stopped by for the first of their Happy Hour tours which run from 5-7 PM and don’t require registration.

The facility can be a bit tricky to find since it’s at the back of the property on Karbach St., and parking is tight, but the neighboring business has allowed Karbach to use one of their bays to welcome brewery visitors, so you should quickly see smiling faces at a table taking entrance fees. Standard admission is $7, which gets you a 9 oz. Karbach tour glass and 4 tokens for beer samples. Or, for $25, you’ll get the same tour glass and tokens along with a full size Karbach pint glass and a t-shirt featuring one of their beers. One of the Karbach employees had one of those nifty iPhone credit card swipers, but cash is definitely quicker.

Visitors were happily milling about the small but open floor plan, sipping one of the three brews on tap: Hopadillo and Weisse Versa, along with the newest addition to the core lineup, Sympathy for the Lager. I hadn’t yet tried the lager, so I quickly went for that one, however I’d actually recommend a flight starting with the mildest brew, the Weisse Versa, then the lager, then the IPA. If you went from the bitter hoppiness of the Hopadillo back down to the subtly smooth Belgian wheat, you might wonder where the taste went.

I was impressed not only with the taste of the lager, but the philosophy behind it as well. The name and logo acknowledge that pilsners and lagers are two beer styles that have been bastardized and watered down by the big conglomerates, and so have become anathema to many knowledgeable beer drinkers. But they are still styles that can be done well, and Karbach Brewing has set out to prove just that, showing compassion for the bedeviled style. Lagers are brewed at colder temperatures than ales, and stored for much longer, making them an expensive proposition for small breweries with limited tank space – but such is Karbach’s commitment. The malts used produce a smooth, slightly sweet beer, and much darker than mass-produced lagers, though not approaching Dunkel levels. The hops are not given short shrift however, and yield a mild bitterness that remind you you’re still drinking craft beer. I sampled all three offerings, but came back for this one twice.

Around 6:30, one of the brewers started the formal, though laid back, tour, and walked the group through the brewing process, pointing out the grain mills, kettles, and mash tuns, then walked us around to the fermenting tanks. A new 60-gallon tank, on its side in the above picture, was just arriving from Saint Arnold, as that brewery upgrades to 240-gallon* tanks. The lager will always stay in the 60′s, since it ferments longer and Karbach wants to make sure they always have plenty on hand. Along with the other two current brews, there was a new Double IPA in one of the tanks, and a seasonal winter ale, brewed with cocoa nibs, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and cinnamon. Sounds like it should be called Wass-ale. But that’s just me. There’s also a canning line on the way, so you’ll be able to pick up Karbach at your local retailer soon.

The Karbach brewery makes a great start to the weekend with their Friday happy hour tours, and this past Saturday afternoon was complete with the Rolling Hunger food truck. I love that it’s easier than ever to earn the “Find the Source” badge in the Bayou City on Untappd, encouraging beer lovers to learn more about the brewing process, and I was glad to earn mine at Houston’s newest brewery. I’ve enjoyed the beers so far, especially the lager, and look forward to Karbach’s future offerings. I was a bit jealous of all the #GABF hashtags tossed around the Twitterverse over the weekend, but haughtily sipped on new brews that weren’t at the Great American Beer Festival, but undoubtedly will be next year. Cheers!


Post from jack | around
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