The Granville Brewing Co.’s first three beers hit shelves on Feb. 2, and since then I’d been hearing good reports. Brewmaster Ross Kirk and President Jay Parsons are co-owners of the small one-barrel brew house located on Kirk’s property in Granville. They made an interesting choice — that’s saluted by this beer writer — that their first brews be all Belgian-style ales.
“There are a lot of pale ales, IPAs, reds around here. Belgians are a niche market, and starting small, it was a good fit. Plus, these are the beers I enjoy the most; I became a home brewer to make Saisons and Tripel,” said Kirk.
Parsons reiterated his and Kirk’s affinity for Belgians as a big factor in choosing which beer styles to make, but there are also recipes outside the Belgian style that are in the works, including a Russian imperial stout. I was pleased by each of the offerings from Granville Brewing Co., so there’s no need for anything else immediately.
The Reaper Saison
Saisons are quickly becoming trendy among discerning drinkers, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a complex beer that, when done right, is a wonderful experience. And The Reaper is a Saison done right.
The flavor profile has a wealth of subtle flavors that are balanced nicely throughout the cloudy golden-orange brew. The initial citrus crisp and sweetness is well done — a blend of orange and lemon — that’s followed by a small aftertaste of spice. If you’re nitpicking, maybe you could ask for more spice. Maybe.
What’s most impressive is that the unusually high ABV (8.4 percent) is hardly noticeable. I thought this could be a severe hindrance that resulted in a boozy finish, but that’s not the case.
The Betrayer Tripel
The Tripel is essentially Granville Brewing Co.’s simplest ale — although simple is not a term I’d use to describe any of them. The Betrayer has many traditional Tripel qualities, including a powerful 9.5 percent ABV. There’s more prevalent flavor in the Tripel than the Saison, but it’s still not overpowering.
The Betrayer is also slightly sweeter than the other two, but counters with a fairly substantial floral hop aroma, making it the hoppiest of the three. The Betrayer may lack the complexities of its brethren, but is still very solid.
The Oppressor Imperial Amber Ale
The Oppressor was far and away my favorite of the three, despite the fairly big flaw of being over-carbonated. It’s best at a warmer temperature to help with this carbonation issue (Parsons told me Granville Brewing Co. is going to add ideal temperature and glassware to future labels, which could help with The Oppressor).
While the carbonation caused a massive head on this beer and could be toned down, it’s also one of the most pleasant aspects. The combination of a big effervescence and silkiness produced a wonderful texture.
On the flavor side, The Oppressor is bold and impressive. The dark auburn ale has a caramel sweetness with some fruity (pear?) notes that are nice, but the clove flavors are strong and quite wonderful. It may be too strong for some, but I quite liked this attack on the palette.
Even if some of the beer was lost to the carbonation, it was probably worth it. Then again, I could drink The Oppressor in gallons, so losing any of it pains me.