Cismontane Brewing: Bushwacker and Marea Roja

Cismontane’s recent change in line up prompted me to get out on a Friday night with my friend, and fellow Cismontane regular, Mike. We enjoyed a game of chess, great food from Dos Chinos, and of course Cismontane’s fine brews.

Bushwacker

Cask (left) and regular (right). These pictures exaggerate what is only a slight difference in color.

Cask (left) and regular (right). These pictures exaggerate what is only a slight difference in color.

Bushwacker, available in cask and non-cask, is a very interesting beer. On the recommendation of the bartender, I tried the cask version first, which includes clove and vanilla on top of the honey and sage. There’s a whole lot going on here: the inherent effervescence and slight hoppiness of the beer base, aromatics of the sage, sweetness of the honey, spice of the clove, and an additional but distinct sweetness of the vanilla. This is the kind of beer that really hits you square in the tastebuds, and I love it.

The obvious choice for my next beer was the regular Bushwacker. While I by no means shy away from strong flavors, I did prefer this version to the cask. The lack of additional layers of flavor lets the honey and sage shine–I should mention that sage is my favorite herb–yielding a beer that’s better suited to drinking with food that wasn’t specifically matched to the flavors of the cask Bushwacker.

Marea Roja

Background:  my king, moments before surrender.

Background: my king, moments before surrender.

To finish off trying the new line up, except for the depleted La Crema, I got a bottle of Marea Roja, a Flemish Red. I didn’t now what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. If I weren’t paying attention, I would have thought I somehow got an especially fruity champagne! Flemish Reds are often sour and acidic, but Cismontane’s Marea Roja has significant notes of tart fruit–lime and strawberry stood out to me–that push the acidity to the background. It reminded my dad of the UK’s Shandy, a drink of beer and lemonade. However, the most accurate description, in my opinion is a bit different.

Before I say it, I want to make something clear: this comparison is nothing but favorable.

The fruit aspect of this beer reminded me of watermelon flesh near the rind (NOT the rind itself) where the color starts to pale. As one who holds watermelon on a pedestal above all other fruits, I see merit in all parts of a watermelon, so again, this is a most favorable comparison.