Grand Teton: Beer in the Land of LDS
By Eric and Mimi Griffith
Rob Mullin, Brewmaster and COO for Grand Teton Brewing Company, spent 40 hours traveling from Idaho to St. Louis so he could talk to us about beer…that’s dedication my fellow beer fans, and Cicero’s Beer School applauds him for the effort.
Twenty three years ago Grand Teton was founded in Wyoming as Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company by Ernie and Charlie Otto, but moved to Victor, Idaho in 1998. The name change occurred two years later to help market the beers to a larger region. If you have not heard of Grand Teton Brewing you have probably never visited Yellowstone National Park because their beer, Old Faithful Ale, is the top seller in the park even over our hometown Budweiser.
Fresh Hops, Please
As a passionate American brewer for over 20 years, Rob has learned to utilize hops in a multitude of ways. He will “take hops in any condition, but primarily in pellets.” While we all know there are different hop varieties, we learned that hops give different notes to the beer depending on when they are added to the boil or the fermenting beer. Most dry hopping is done after primary fermentation, but what is wet hopping? This is the term used to describe hops that are both harvested and put in the beer within 24 hours. The practice was not possible in Idaho until the recent InBev merger because Anheuser-Busch controlled every hop farm in the state. Now you can hear the hop cones shouting “Freedom!”
Tail Waggin’ Double White
He says- This hazy, golden beer presents a very interesting flavor of orange cream and candy. I taste coriander up front and citrus as it pulls back to reveal the 7% ABV. The Belgian yeast stands out in the nose and your mouth is coated with a spicy linger. Rob suggested mimosas made with Tail Waggin’ and OJ and I think I am on board.
She says- I haven’t tried this one before and was happy to see it was in the line-up for the night. This ale is light gold in color with a fruity aroma. It is very bright and crisp on the tongue. The company describes it as having an effervescent mouthfeel and I agree. It was clean and refreshing – the perfect beer for a hot summer afternoon. I think Tail Waggin’ would compliment a wide variety of foods. Excellent!
He says- Originally brewed as an IPA, this wonderful 60 IBU beer has been moved to American Pale Ale status as the categories have evolved through the past decade. Gold medal winner in 2008 at the Great American Beer Festival. A creamy grapefruit flavor, but well balanced. This is a great beer and I have tried to get a growler for two weeks in a row. First try…the keg ran out, see I told you it was good. And now this week, we take our growler full of Sweetgrass home only to have it jump out of the car and play the role of Humpty Dumpty on our garage floor. I was actually tempted to grab a straw and try to drink the beer as it flowed down the driveway. There is nothing more heart wrenching than the loss of a good beer.
She says- This is their best selling beer and I understand why! It has a crisp and clean finish. It is dry hopped with whole cascade flowers, but it isn’t hop-overwhelming. I find it to be very drinkable, and something that can pair easily with any food type from BBQ to grilled meats to pasta. It’s a great “regular” to keep in the fridge.
Bitch Creek Extra Special Brown
He says- This is one of my favorite beers because of the complex balance of malts and hops. Check out the blog from January titled “A Beer for Every Meal” for my complete review. (http://ciceroschatter.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/a-beer-for-every-meal%E2%80%A6even-breakfast/) We did learn more about the name from Rob…obviously named for a creek near the brewery, but the creek’s original name was Biche, meaning doe or female deer in French. There might have been a misunderstanding during the translation because we now have Bitch Creek.
She says- I really enjoy this well balanced brown ale. It has plenty of malty sweetness, and finishes with a nice hoppy flavor. I find it to have a slight tobacco and woody flavor. At 54 IBU’s it’s a very easy drinking, year-round, sessionable beer.
Black Cauldron Imperial Stout
He says- The first sip made me think of liquid smoke, but as this beer warmed up it became one of the creamiest beers I have sampled. Incredibly dark head with a black body, this beer is so thick it sticks to the glass, not just lacing, but actual beer. I smell toast and bacon along with a sweet note. The taste is super roasted malts, hops in the middle, then some espresso and mocha notes. I have noted that my tongue is tingling like the beer just pinched my taste buds. This is one serious beer, and after our growler accident it has become our homework for the week.
She says- Black Cauldron is full of personality! It pours dark brown to black with a beautiful toasted caramel color head. At the risk of sounding like a “goofy woman” I loved the color of the head so much I thought it would make a great paint color. It does have a slight smokiness to it, along with chocolate and coffee flavors. This one falls into my “after-dinner beer” category. I really loved this one!
The Last Sip
I would like to send out a thank you to Missouri Beverage and all the other distributors for helping to create a wonderfully diverse and delicious beer menu for the St. Louis area. You know distributors often get the short end of the stick and are over looked because they don’t make the beer and run the local bottle shops, but they actually serve a valuable purpose. For example, if I told you there was a small town in Idaho with population 800 and they made some of the greatest beer in the country there, would you take the time to drive or fly there to sample a pint? Probably not. And do you think that brewery would be able to deliver their beer all the way to St. Louis in a consistent and timely manner? Me either. But when breweries like Grand Teton team up with distributors we are able to enjoy these wonderful beers at our favorite local bar or in the comfort of our homes here in St. Louis. All this in Teton County, Idaho, where the population is over 71% Mormon. Is this a great country or what? Let us know about your favorite small town brewery.
About the Authors: Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about a year now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for five years and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, just realized beer actually has flavor about a year ago. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!