Tuesday, July 7, 2015

City Fox - Brenner Brewing

                I often try to have a new beer every night, and while I do have a kegerator I have been through quite a few commercial kegs and never even thought of getting the same keg more than once.  That changed with City Fox though, the Mosaic hopped pale ale from Brenner Brewing Company in Milwaukee.  With summer right around the corner I wanted an excellent fruity pale ale, and took a cue from brew master Mike Brenner when he mentioned that City Fox was his favorite beer.  While I was at the brewery I ordered a City Fox at the bar, had one sip, and immediately ordered a 1/6th barrel to keep on tap at home. 

Until recently, ordering a keg, or filling up a growler at the brewery were the only ways to enjoy City Fox at home, which was great for those of us with a kegerator but not so great for the majority of craft beer enthusiasts.  Fortunately a few weeks ago bottled City Fox made its debut at Milwaukee Discount Liquor, and recently became available at multiple outlets the Milwaukee area and as far west as Madison.  As one of the Brenner Brewing’s flagship beers, it shouldn’t be too surprising that City Fox is quickly selling out in the stores that stock it.

The beer, a pale ale brewed with Mosaic hops, is a pretty straight forward pale ale with a fairly simple grain bill using only 2-row malt, one of the more common base malts in American craft beers, and caramel 20 malt (20 lovibond denoting the color of the malt). Unlike darker caramel malts which can provide considerable sweetness and well defined caramel flavors, Caramel 20 is roasted at a lower temperature resulting in much more subdued flavors, adding a light maltiness while providing a note of sweetness as well as light toffee notes with a subtle hint of caramel.  Mosaic hops are well known for being particularly fruity, with flavors of stonefruit, lemon, mango, melon, berries, peach, grapefruit, with floral and earthy notes.

City Fox is open fermented at “elevated” temperatures, which can enhance the fruity esters created by the yeast during fermentation.  It has something to do with reducing the CO2 saturation and hydrostatic pressure in the beer, which I suppose would make sense.  Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure at a given depth of a liquid, and it takes into account any additional pressure pushing down on top of the liquid.  In a sealed conical fermenter, the CO2 that is being generated during fermentation only has a small blowoff tube, building up pressure on top of the fermenting wort until it is able to escape out of a relatively small hole.  In open fermentation on the other hand the CO2 that is being created can more easily leave the headspace in the fermenter, decreasing the downward pressure of CO2 while also reducing CO2 in suspension.  The lower concentration of CO2 allows the yeast to be more active, and produce more esters.  The elevated temperatures meanwhile also aid in the production of esters while increasing the rate at which the yeast reproduce, eat sugar and make alcohol.  Open fermentation is a wonderful thing, but it can be tricky and produce unintended off-flavors if it is not closely monitored, which is why most breweries have moved away from it for a majority of their production.

I apologize if anything I mentioned above is technically incorrect, although I am sure someone will call me on it if it is.  Moving on to the review…

They Say:

                This session ale has a simple grist of just 2-Row and Caramel 20 malts so we can showcase the fruit and citrus that come naturally from the Mosaic hops and fermenting this beer at elevated temperatures in an open fermentation tank.  We hope you love it as much as we do.  Everything we do starts with art.

I Say:
                City Fox pours a crystal clear copper tinged amber with a thick, creamy white head and a slight rocky breakup.  The head holds decent retention (3-5 min) before fading into the glass and leaving moderate lacing behind.  Tropical and citrusy fruit aromas abound from the glass.   Fresh mango, papaya, lemon, grapefruit, guava, and gooseberry aromas mingle with notes bubble gum.  A subtle maltiness adds light bready notes that blend well with fresh melon in the finish.  The aroma is amazing, and surprisingly complex for a single hop beer, even if that hop is Mosaic.

                City Fox has an upfront sweet maltiness with subtle notes of toffee.  The sweet malts add complexity to the hops and additional fruitiness arising from the open fermentation.  Tropical and citrus fruit flavors are dominant throughout with notes of mango, minello oranges, sweet pineapple, and ripe cantelope.  Melon, orange, and sweet malt notes linger into the finish and aftertaste.  Moderately malty with a moderate level of hop bitterness, City Fox is medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

                This is easily one of my favorite beers right now with the strong tropical fruit and citrus notes that come from Brenner’s combination of Mosaic hops and open fermentation.  As I mentioned towards the beginning of this post, I never get the same beer twice for my kegerator, but City Fox has proven to be the exception and honestly, after getting back to back kegs of City Fox.  I’m planning to get a third keg the next time I have a spot because I really miss having City Fox on tap in my house.  City Fox is also available in 6-packs, or growlers if you are close enough to the brewery to pick one up.  I also recently found out from Mike that all 6-packs sold in the month of July at Discount Liquors (Milwaukee-metro liquor store) come with a free tour at the brewery so head out and pick up a 6-pack soon to take advantage of the awesome deal!

                Well, that’s all for tonight, check back soon for another post!

Happy Drinking, and remember to always Drink Wisconsinbly!