Road Trip – Spindletap Brewery

Spindletap was a brewery I eagerly wanted to visit for various reasons. Ever since the announcement of the brewery, we’ve followed their construction progress and they have one of the nicest taprooms of any brewery in Houston. However, there was another reason. I’ve heard (and read) many comments about their beer being less than stellar. This, of course, was a concern to me and before passing judgment, I wanted to try it at its freshest state – straight from the taproom.

I’ve heard from at least four different people that they have tried the Honey Hole ESB and each time it was diacetyl (the compound chemical that gives butter its flavor). Diacetyl can ruin a beer and makes it undrinkable in most cases. This left me with worry as it typically means that a beer is contaminated during the brewing process or the beer is too young and needs some more warm aging to eliminate the buttery flavor. I had yet to try the beer, so I wanted to see if I had the same experience.

Visiting the taproom was the step I needed to take to eliminate all of my concerns. They have a package at the brewery that is $15.00 for three pints and includes a free glass to take home. I took advantage of this offering and started out with their Hop Option IPA with Amarillo hops. It was a single-hop IPA that was rich in citrus flavor with a hoppiness that gave off the right amount of bitterness. Of the three full beers I had, it was by far my favorite.

My second beer was the one that had so much controversy, so I wanted to see what would happen when I tried it for the first time. The Honey Hole ESB didn’t give off the diacetyl flavor that I had heard so much about. It’s a difficult style to brew as patience is the key to allow the temperatures to rise slowly over a few days, so minor issues with temperature could ruin a batch with the yeasts creating a buttery flavor. Fortunately, the Honey Hole ESB I enjoyed kept the right amount of bitterness that balanced the malt. Quite a bit of honey is added to the brew giving it a sweet characteristic that was delicious and highly drinkable. It killed any doubts I had about the beer and made me understand that if somebody has a bad batch, it can be for a different reason. I’ll get to that a bit later.

Finally, I finished off with a Boomtown Blonde, which I know will be a staple in my rotation once I can get it in cans. A light and refreshing blonde ale, it has a grainy flavor, but it smooth and delicious. Honestly, there is nothing earth-shattering about the beer. It’s just a nice session beer that is certainly perfect for beating the Texas heat.

I was privileged enough to meet Cameron, one of the founders and their guy in charge of running their social media accounts. He told me that he’s received quite a bit of feedback regarding some bad reviews of Boomtown Blonde and Honey Hole ESB. He told us that if anybody has gotten a bad batch of the beer, to reach out to him via private message on the social media pages so they can make it right and give the information to their distributor, Silver Eagle. He mentioned a tap takeover they had recently done at H-E-B Vintage Park where a keg was being tapped from October. He knew the taste would be off, so they are looking to improve and give the best experience to the consumer. They’ve found several kegs at various locations of old beer that should have been tapped months ago. Using this feedback and experience, they are working with Silver Eagle on fixing this problem. I found this to be incredibly refreshing as it showed their seriousness to keeping quality beer out in the marketplace.

In addition, Cameron was eager to allow us to try some of the brews they have been working on. The Russian Imperial Stout we tasted was one he mentioned his brewer wants to age for a while, but they want to get out into market. Personally, I would agree with the brewer that the beer needs some aging to give the dark fruit notes more time, so the character of the beer is better with a bit more booziness. Right now, it seemed a bit incomplete. I hope that their brewer gets his way and they age the beer until possibly the end of the year.

The other beer we tried was their upcoming IPA, Hop Gusher. Unlike their other IPAs, this option is a blend of Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo hops. The version we tried had not yet been carbonated, but it gave us a true indication of what the flavor profile will taste like. Had this beer been available, I would have been drinking this all day long. It will be an unbelievable addition to their lineup. The citrus and pine flavors were balanced so nicely with the bitterness of the hops that it made the beer so enjoyable to sample. This is the one I cannot wait to sample in the finished format.

Overall, I had a very positive experience with the brewery and the beer left me with no doubt that sometimes you have to try something in person to dispel any preconceived notions. I want to visit again to try Hop Gusher when it is ready to roll and to try the beers I wasn’t able to sample during this initial visit.