- Griffin Swartzell
- This golden ale sips spice-forward with subtle tamarind.
Drinking craft beer continues to be a popular pastime, even as quarantine restrictions relax. That’s a trend about as profound and unexpected as the sun setting in the west or Douglas Bruce complaining about taxes. And it’s fortunate for the city’s many breweries. So in the interest of sharing some excellent brews, we took a trip along Powers Boulevard and picked up a few crowlers for safe, socially distant home consumption.
Our northernmost port of call is Peaks N Pines Brewing Company’s flagship location, tucked away off Tutt Boulevard, walking distance from Security Service Field. When we stop in, they’ve closed the seating area and now sell bottles and 32-ounce aluminum crowler cans from a setup in back, out of their garage door. As a retail option, it works. We pick up a can of on-special chile session beer, a seasonal golden ale that comes in at a low-to-moderate 4.8 percent ABV. It leads and finishes clean, a good ale with enough but not too much body. There’s a mild pepper heat at the end, but this beer bears more of a roasted chile pepper taste than spice, and for that, it’s darn good.
Farther south, FH Beerworks East is now the only FH Beerworks, as the downtown location has closed. It’s odd, seeing the big drinking area so empty, but taps remain plentiful. We opt for a seasonal beer, a golden ale brewed with chiles and tamarind dubbed Pulparindo. Where Peaks N Pines’ beer was all about pepper flavor, this one brings the heat. Tamarind plays a minor supporting role, adding faint fruit to the malty beer, and that substantial afterburn makes for a clean finish flavor-wise, as long as drinkers are ready for that kick.
Our third and final destination entered 2020 after a tumultuous end to a period of turmoil. Nano 108 opened with promise before a years-long decline, until the removal of a part-owner put control in the hands of Zach Weller, now head brewer and general manager. We’ve been excited to return and sample Nano’s reinvigorated brews. And when we arrive planning on one crowler, we’re unable to choose and wind up taking home two. The Remedy and I.Am.Groot are both gruit ales, brewed with herb mixtures of things like yarrow, horehound, ginger, cinnamon or other plants, instead of hops.
The Remedy clocks in at a low 3.8 percent ABV, its amber malt body pairing with pears and a mixture of baking spices. Fruit flavor leads but clears out for malty warmth, and spices only partially clean up the finish, which instead lingers, warm and aromatic. As our glass warms to room temperature, the spices pop more, so don’t let the low alcohol content make this brew seem like anything but a sipper. I.Am.Groot has rose and raspberry, and it’s fermented with champagne yeast, bringing its ABV to around 7 percent. It’s fruity and a little tart, with rose more on the nose than the palate, an unbeatable spring flavor combo with enough body for colder evenings.