We’re traveling to Missouri for today’s beer. While the Show Me State may be home to a purported ruler of lager with a hubristically-usurped name, thankfully there are some solid craft brewers operating within the shadow of the “king’s” castle.
According to midwestmicrobrews.com, there are currently 45 craft breweries in operation in Missouri. Only a small handful of those are well-known in craft beer circles; Boulevard, St. Louis Brewery (b.k.a. Schlafly) and O’Fallon. I just caught a lead on one of the state’s newest movers and shakers – Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling – and brought in a few of their flavors.
Located in Ste. Genevieve, a colonial French settlement – the first permanent European one in Missouri, by the way – barely west of the Mississippi River, Crown Valley brought in Jeremy Gilbert to be their brew master in 2012. Mr. Gilbert had been operating a small brewery with a friend when he decided to attend the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago.
I first wrote about the Siebel Institute two months ago covering Local Option Brewing. This very prestigious brewing college has been training folks in the science of zymurgy – the process of fermentation as it applies to beverages – for over 140 years. Specializing in advanced commercial brewing, Siebel Institute can be considered the Harvard of making beer.
Jeremy was the perfect fit for a burgeoning Missouri brewery seeing as he was born, raised and schooled in state. After attending UM Columbia for his degree in agricultural systems management, he decided in 2008 that brewing was his passion. After trying his Gunslinger Double IPA, I’m glad he found his path.
Too many double India pale ale these days suffer from an overload of hop bitterness and bite without the proper level of malt presence to balance. Not so with Gunslinger. It manages to satisfy in all the right ways without the astringent, mouth-drying hop oils becoming unenjoyable. Whatever Justin Gilbert learned at Siebel, it’s working.
Hazy honey-orange with small particulate – bottle-conditioning, it looks like – and a towering, off-white head leaving thick lacing, Gunslinger shoots from the hip with scents of toasty, toffee malt; fresh bread; biscuit; Meyer lemon and flowers. Flavors pop from all directions; citrus, honey, pine sap and cracker wrapped up in a crisp body with lively carbonation. Bitterness units are at a deceptive 93 – high to be sure, but not overtly bitter at all – while the alcohol content exhibits no heat in the throat despite its 9.1% level.
Along with stellar beer like Gunslinger, Crown Valley also makes cider, distills liquor and operates a restaurant. Looks like Missouri is seeing a new kingdom in the making.