Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lock, stock and a barrel full of hops: Taking on the Imperial Texan

Image credit:  Martin House Brewing Company.

If brand imagery influences the kinds of beer we drink, the Imperial Texan from Martin House should be successful from the start.  It's got an eye-catching label (what with its blazing red color), it's "imperial" (trendy buzz word), and it's Texan (regional references are always a winner).  Oh, and let's not forget about the picture.  If the sight of two Texas cowboys locked in a duel doesn't have you asking the barkeep to "draw" you a pint, I'm not sure what will.  Yes, I know what you're thinking.  Not to worry, the beer is good too.

By now you've probably guessed that the Imperial Texan is an imperial red.  That being said, comparisons to Peticolas' Velvet Hammer are inevitable.  Yet, for all practical purposes these are two completely different beers.  Whereas the Hammer imperializes an American-style red ale by boosting equally the flavor contributions of malt, hops and alcohol, the Texan takes direct aim at the Brewers Association (BA) style guidelines with its across the board hop intensity.  One is balanced, one brazen, and taken together they demonstrate the range of interpretations one might see in a single style.

Looking at the Texan more closely, aromas center on the sharp scent of pine needles, tree sap and fresh herbal tones.  It's hop-forward and assertively bitter, with a moderate caramel maltiness forming the basis of its medium-full body.  Some might like a little more heft in the latter, but go too far and it might start to have an American strong ale-type feel.

Referring back to its title, calling this brew a Texan will elicit certain expectations, but this is a beer that appears to live up to its name.  It's big and brash, and is the latest in a string of local brews that exemplify the willingness of new brewers to come out of the gate swinging.  There is a fun bit of irony, though, in one of the brewery's core values.  Intending to remain "unbound by tradition", they promise to not be "stymied by existing categorical guidelines."  The thing is, judging by the BA definition of an imperial red, the Imperial Texan is about as representative as you can get.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

*Originally published on

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