A while back, I received the following email out of the blue:
I like reading your blog. We also make our living from beer. Ain’t life grand?
I would like to send you some beer from our little brewery here in Kansas. Do you accept unsolicited beer donations? If so, please send me a shipping address and I will get some out to you.
I do, and so I sent off the shipping instructions and promptly forgot all about it. (If you, too, want to ply me with beer, I mean, send me some tasting samples, drop me a line and I’ll send the details.)
Some weeks later, a small package arrived containing two one-pint cans each of Buffalo Sweat Stout and Oasis Ale, products of the Tallgrass Brewing Company of Manhattan, Kansas. Now, I had never heard of Tallgrass Brewing and didn’t even know there was a Manhattan in Kansas, so it took me a little whole to connect the two events, but connect them I did, following which I sat down to conduct a tasting.
First up came the Buffalo Sweat, which strikes me as a somewhat unpalatable name for a beer, but for all I know might be very much appreciated – for its ironic nature or otherwise – in Kansas.
Deep mahogany rather than black of hue, the nose of this beer is less like sweat and more like a really good espresso accompanied by a chunk of quality dark chocolate and a much smaller piece of meringue. The body is both light and sweet for a stout, with mostly sweet chocolate and a bit of roasted grain up front and moderate sweetness and some good chocolaty – milk and dark – notes throughout. There’s some slight drying on the finish, but not so much as to make up for the lack of roast character, all of which leaves the impression more of a full brown ale or even an un-Baltic-like Baltic porter than a stout.
I have more success with the Oasis, a brilliantly reddish-copper strong ale with generous hopping. The nose offers a mix of stewed fruit and leafy, fresh mown grassy hop, while the body starts with a lovely caramel-accented fruit compote of flavour before leading into a hoppier but still decidedly fruity body holding balanced notes of red apple and dried apricot, lemon verbena and earthy, rooty hop. The website describes this as a “double ESP/IPAish beer” and that seems about right, with arguably more of the ESB than IPA present.
Based on this snapshot of the brewery, I concluded that this is a young but enthusiastic brewery with some significant potential in a part of the country not exactly known for adventuresome brewing. A follow-up to their website revealed that Tallgrass is indeed only a little more than three years old and certainly full of craft brewing entrepreneurship, coupled with no small amount of passion.
Thanks for the samples, Tallgrass, and keep fighting the good fight.