It would be quite the understatement to say that Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. has recovered from the roof collapse that shut down the brewery in February 2010. In fact, the rally of community support behind the brewery after the disaster and the resulting "To Thee" series it inspired has pushed the Fort Worth company to come up with bolder, richer, more exciting beers than ever.
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Gravel Road, a double sticke altbier, came out late this summer to well-deserved praise. They're not ignoring their old standbys, either: The Wall Street Journal's William Bostwick recently called Ugly Pug the "best American black lager" in an article about the beer style, and Rahr Summer Wheat made my list of favorite Texas wheat brews.
The "To Thee" series began with a limited late 2010 run of the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Winter Warmer (aka Whiskey Warmer), followed soon after by Snowmageddon, an excellent oatmeal stout released a year after the calamitous storm for which it is named. It has continued with Pecker Wrecker, an imperial pilsner; The Regulator, a doppelbock; La Grange, a farmhouse ale or saison; and Angry Goat, a weizen doppelbock scheduled for release this month. "To Thee" beers are packaged in 22-ounce "bomber" bottles and can be on the pricey side, going for around $9 apiece at most stores.
I haven't seen Angry Goat in stores yet, but I finally find a bottle of La Grange (and I must have been drinking it the same night or a day after Brian Brown at the Plano Craft Beer Examiner was doing the same). After the jump, see how it scores in the Hophead Beer Ranking Metric.
Rahr La Grange Farmhouse Ale
Appearance: Hazy gold, the color of straw, with a small to moderate white head. 9/10
Nose: Funky, fruity and spicy with earthy and floral hops. 9/10
Taste: This is a really good saison. It's funky and malty with a good balance of sweetness, dryness and bitterness with spicy clove notes. It's complex and refreshing. 36/40
Body: Light to medium with fairly lively carbonation for a beer that's on the heavier end of the saison spectrum. 9/10
Finish: Dry and rather bitter, almost unpleasantly so, but very refreshing. 8/10
Style/Originality: This is a really good saison, and I appreciate the higher than usual ABV. But I'm kind of annoyed at the price. For $8.99 I'd like a full liter or at least a corked 750-ml bottle. Five or six, maybe even seven bucks would be more reasonable for a bomber. 8/10
Party Factor (ABV divided by price per 12-ounce serving): With an ABV of 7 percent and a price tag of $8.99 per 22-ounce bottle (at least at the Highland Park Whole Foods, where it rang up as a Winter Warmer) it has a factor of 1.43, rounding down to a paltry 1.