Welcome back to Tavern Time where Christy (a craft beer connoisseur) and I (a craft beer noob and trash beer drinker) review random craft beers that catch our eye. In our last entry, where we reviewed Lord Hobo’s Boomsauce, Tavern of Tales’ CEO, Nick, admitted that he didn’t understand what malts were and how they affected the taste of beer. So this time we’re doing a double feature where we’re reviewing a hoppy beer, Jack’s Abby Citra Brau, and a malty beer, Founders Dirty Bastard. Hopefully by the end of it, Nick will learn the differences and quite possibly the essentials of beer flavor profiles. But as always, before we get into the review, let’s talk about the breweries and the beers.
Jack’s Abby is a local brewer in Framingham, MA and was founded by the three Hendler brothers (Jack, Eric, and Sam) in 2011. Since then they’ve rapidly become a mainstay in bars across the Northeast. When I moved to Boston I had never heard of Jack’s Abby before, but now I’ve seen them everywhere from Blanchards (Jamaica Plain) to Common Ground (Allston). A lot of my Thursday nights, when I had resided in Allston, were spent drinking their House Lager at Common Ground during their trivia nights--never won a single game.
Founders though not local (Grand Rapids, MI), was founded in 1997, by Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers originally as the Canal Street Brewing Co. and eventually was renamed Founders. By 2012, they had quickly climbed the ladder of the beer scene, becoming the 30th largest brewery by sales volume and had won five awards in the World Beer Cup. Though I haven’t drank a lot of their products, I have had Dirty Bastard before which is why I chose it for this feature. Now let’s get to the review.
JP: Let’s talk about aesthetics. I don’t like that the opening for the Jack’s Abby can doesn’t line up with its label.
Christy: I mean that’s more the fault of an automated can wrapper. They can’t control it. But yeah, it’s no good. It’s no good for Instagram.
JP: And, you know, Founders Dirty Bastard just fits my aesthetic more.
Christy: You just like that it’s called Dirty Bastard.
JP: Yeah. Yeah I do.
Christy: It has an old man on it though, so Nick should like it, but the look of the Founders is always disappointing to me.
Christy: Except for the creepy baby one.
Nick: I haven’t had many Founders products, but I always recognize Jack’s Abby’s labels, because their design aesthetic is constant in all their stuff.
Christy: I also just prefer cans to bottles, but I don’t know, I think the Founders labels always just leave something to be desired.
JP: Yeah the picture of this older man in this painting or whatever style of art this is, and the font, it’s just boring. But the name, muah, it’s delightful.
Christy: It just feels like an old brewery, but I guess they are a pretty old brewery, but that’s the style they’re going for. But their beer’s pretty good.
JP: Oh, so let’s move on to the flavor section.
Nick (tasting DB): So this is supposed to be malty?
Christy: Yes, it is malty. There’s seven different varieties of malt in it.
Nick: Then malt is derived from what? It’s the form of?
Christy: Well, malt is a grain…
Nick: Is a grain and? Oh. Okay.
Christy: They soak it, essentially, and make beer. Let’s learn about malt! Malt is germinated cereal grain that have been dried in a process known as malting. The grains are made to germinate by soaking in water and are then halted badada-da. Enzymes required for modifying the grain, starches, various sugar--yum yum yum. Barley is the most common malt.
Nick: So this beer uses seven types of grains that are then malted?
Christy: Yes, but it doesn’t tell me which.
Nick: And today’s Jack Abby is very hoppy?
Nick: Barely hoppy?
Christy: So we got the dry-hopped citra lager.
Nick: I can taste more tropical-y-ness citrus in this than Boomsauce.
Christy: Citra is a type of hop. It doesn’t necessarily mean citrus.
Nick: Okay. Nevermind.
Christy: But it does tend to have a citrus flavor. Point is, citra doesn’t mean citrus.
JP: Yeah. It’s very dry, very mellow.
INTERMISSION FOR NICK’S ALCOHOL NOOBERY:
Nick: So what does it mean to be dry if it’s in a liquid form?
Christy: Oh my goodness. Don’t you--do you drink wine?
JP: Do you drink gin?
Nick: Um...I do drink wine. And I do drink gin, but I’m not familiar in the different types of gin. Cause I usually put it with tonic, so I never have, like, gin by itself.
JP: Do you drink sake? I mean it’s a type of wine, but…
Nick: Not very often.
JP: Well, usually it’s dry.
Nick: Maybe we’ll have to do a regular gin and a dry gin tasting next time.
MALTS ACT II:
Nick: I think I can taste what I think to be malts now. It’s like smooth.
Christy: Yeah. It’s sweeter.
Nick: I’m gonna have to go to JP Licks now and get a frappe with malts in it.
Christy: Yeah for an additional comparison. Well which one do you prefer?
Nick: You see, I did try a frappe in the past with malts, and I really hated it. It was, like, whoa this tastes really weird, but this is okay.
Christy: The malts that they use in milkshakes and frappes are different.
Nick: Okay. I see.
Christy: I can’t really describe the taste that it gives milkshakes.
Christy: So which one do you prefer, Jordan?
JP: Hold on. Let’s see. *sips the Dirty Bastard* I’ve definitely had this taste before. And I’m starting to remember it.
Christy: In beers?
JP: Yeah. In beers.
Nick: I think I like the Citra Brau better.
Nick: I think this is just the flavor that I like more in a beer. Like the Dirty Bastard is good too, but if I were to choose one, I’d probably go with the Citra Brau.
JP: I like the Founders more.
Christy: Because it has a higher ABV?
JP: Yes…well, not just that.
Christy: You can’t taste the ABV.
JP: Yeah. I know, but I just like the taste more.
Nick: What does ABV stand for?
Christy: Alcohol by volume.
Nick: So what’s the ABV of the Dirty Bastard?
Nick: And the Citra Brau?
Christy: I like both of them.
INTERMISSION FOR CHRISTY’S DESIRE TO KNOW INGREDIENTS:
Christy: Why doesn’t Founders give me their ingredients?
Nick: Do they have to? They have to, right?
Nick: But when you want to sell something commercially, you have to get the FDA to check that out, right?
Christy: I don’t think that applies to alcohol.
Nick: Okay there has to be some type of entity that approves selling commercially, right?
Christy: I mean they don’t have to have a nutritional facts thing, so they don’t have to have an ingredient list.
Christy: I know that they just have to list the ABV by law and this government warning, but I don’t know what else they have to do.
JP: Yeah. I mean on Jack’s Abby’s can they don’t list the ingredients, so…
Christy: Most beers don’t.
JP: But I’d really love if they’d start doing that.
Nick: Oh hey, would you look at this, at the top of the Jack’s Abby can it says, “Tropical Aroma, Fruity Flavor, Juicy Finish.” I think this is more accurate than the Boomsauce description.
JP: Yeah. Definitely.
Christy: You’re wrong Boomsauce.
JP: You’re never going to get over that, are you?
JP: So Tavern of Tales approved?
Christy: Sure. Both of them.
JP: Oh snap.
Christy: I think these are really solid beers. Not my favorites, but pretty good go-tos.