Wednesday, May 30, 2012

515. Two Brothers Pillar of Salt White Rye Ale

It’s been a while since we’ve sampled the wares of Two Brothers. Which, I will note, is a tragedy—it’s been far too long since we had a good glass of lakewater. However, it appears that it is time to start paying attention, at least in the short run, as the label describes Pillar of Salt as “Retro Release 4 of 15,” and that Two Brothers is “Celebrating 15 years with 15 beers.” And if all those retro releases have names even close to being as solid as this one, you can count us in for the remaining eleven. We’ll add this to the previous list that includes Atom Smasher, Hop Juice, Long Haul Session Ale, Resistance IPA, Domaine DuPage, Bitter End, Heavier-Handed, Moaten, and Cane & Ebel.

Pillar of Salt pours a clear straw with an abundant and persistent white head that laces the glass profusely. The nose is spicy citrus—spicy from the rye and citrus from the hops—that is delicate, perfume-y, and slightly grainy, while flavors open with a touch of caramel and spiciness before heading into citrus and bitterness in the middle. The spiciness picks back up in the final third, and there is a fair amount of bitterness in the finish that lingers on the palate. I also detect a touch of herbal hop flavor to complement the spice, bitter, and resin flavors that round the beer at the end. The carbonation is bright and lightly spritzy; it matches well with the beer, even though the description of flavors may not seem to back thus up. The medium mouthfeel is slightly creamy with a slight tackiness on the tongue. The lighter malt bill does allow the rye flavors to overwhelm the beer a bit too much—it is not as clean and crisp as we might like it to be; even with the brighter carbonation and hop bitterness in the finish, it is a bit muddy across the profile. Nonetheless, Pillar of Salt is an interesting beer, and certainly a different take on traditional rye beers. Congratulations, Two Brothers, on the 15 year anniversary, and here’s to many, many more.

From the bottle: “This one off beer was produced in 2007 as the antithesis of Cane & Ebel. We produced an Imperial Cane & Ebel batch a couple of months earlier and thought we should finish the trifecta with a light colored version. Pillar of Salt is a White version of our Red Rye ale that uses no coloring malts and different hops. The resulting beer is still boldly hoppy, but with a strong citrusy dry hop.”

ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 68

P.S. When I first saw the name of this beer, I thought “Hot damn! Two Brothers brewed a gose!” But then I got closer and read the fine print on the label, and was disappointed. Maybe some day. And if you need a diagram to get the joke, you can go talk to this guy.


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