This time of year we see plenty of holiday seasonal releases — Mardi Gras bocks, lovey dovey white chocolate porters and I'm sure there's an MLK Day beer out there somewhere. Maybe. But Granbury's Revolver Brewing has a new limited draft release celebrating a holiday that seems to be getting bigger and bigger in the U.S., and rightfully so: Chinese New Year.
Here's the breakdown: The Mandarin is a light pale ale brewed with red rice and a pound (per barrel) of dried goji berries in the mash. Mandarina hops are added and the beer is finished with a "dusting" of Chinese five spice powder and dry-hopped with Golden Yunnan tea. Yeah, there's a lot going on in there. But I suppose nobody's ever called Chinese New Year an "understated event."
It's a tad bit fruity and flowery on the nose with a light body, straw color and 6 percent ABV. On the tongue, there's a flowery, tannic moment that comes through first, followed by a moment of, "Huh?," followed by subtle, sweet berry notes and warmth from the Chinese five spice. It has obvious flavor parallels with Blood and Honey, Revolver's popular flagship brew (an unfiltered golden ale finished with blood orange zest, local honey and spices), so if you love that brew, as so many people do, this may be a fun departure for you.
It's the kind of beer that's obviously meant to pair with Asian dishes — after a few sips I found myself wishing I had some pork dumplings on hand. In fact, while I wouldn't likely be compelled to order a second pint of this while sitting at a bar somewhere, I'd be more likely to reach for another if washing down some Xiao Long Bao.
If you're itching to try this beer with appropriate food pairings, Revolver's got several events where you can easily make that happen. At the Mandarin launch party at Pouring Glory, starting at 5 p.m., they'll have the Mandarin, Blood and Honey and Mothers Little Fracker on tap with a menu of Revolver-infused eats. At Luck's Mandarin Launch party, starting at 6 p.m. Monday, The Mandarin, Blood and Honey and Fracker Barrel One will be on tap, with dish pairings like Kung Pao chicken wings, stir fried steak salad with a plum vinaigrette and Chinese red-cooked pork belly. If you're in the mood for some added Chinese New Year flair, head to Revolver on Saturday, Feb. 13, for a party featuring "lion dancing" from the Rising Phoenix Dance Troupe, Chinese New Year decor and festivities (fireworks, maybe?), food and limited release brews and, of course, obligatory commemorative glassware. That event runs from noon to 3 p.m.
This brew is a limited draft release, so your best bet for a pint is at one of The Mandarin's events.
Revolver Brewing, 5650 Matlock Road, Granbury, 817-736-8034