For some craft beer festivals, the “VIP” experience is just an extra hour and a handful of additional tickets. Purchase wisely. For others, you get exclusive access to select brews plus the chance to mingle with the brewers themselves. When we visited the VA Craft Brewers Festival in August, we stopped for extended chats with over a dozen brewers, but one which stuck out for me was Old Ox. President Chris Burns was among the staff in attendance, and with nary a soul in sight I picked his brain on a few of their many delicious concoctions. Among those is the Kristin series of spicy brews (we’ve covered the Passion previously), and it turned out Kristin herself was there as well! In between negotiating for future kegs of some of these limited runs, I learned a few juicy tidbits on the awesome Kristin’s Temper. And I do mean awesome.
Kristin’s Temper, Old Ox Brewery (Ashburn, VA)
Jalapeño Pale Ale, ABV 5.5%, IBU 35
Presentation: Bomber pour into the recommended tuliped pint glass.
Taste: Zesty, dry nose bordering on arid with a hint of roasted peppers (almost serrano). The meaty body is certainly spicy but in no way overwhelmingly so due to the presence of my beloved Citra hops, and those pepper notes linger on the sides and back of the tongue through a subtle piney hop finish. There’s a discernible difference in the heat between the draught and bottle versions, with the latter perhaps trending more drinkable for most. Several months removed from the initial batches, you’ll still find bombers available at Whole Foods and any variety of beer & wine stores, but now is the time to drink anything you find to make good use of this flavor profile. No matter what, this is nowhere near as spicy as a certain Habañero Sculpin making the rounds right now…
Mouth Feel: Neither overly bitter or heavy, Kristin’s Temper strikes a good balance which allows you to focus on the residual heat more so than any other one ingredient. The carbonation isn’t very pronounced, either, which aids in the presentation of the peppery notes.
Overall: Apparently based on a margarita recipe according to Kristin herself, the juxtaposition between jalapeños and Citra hops makes a lot more sense. This certainly brings to mind a Texas-style libation, the star of the show there being the agave rather than some fruity or salty addition. Personally, I really enjoy this kind of complexity as it doesn’t feel cheaply earned. If you’re not used to heat in your cooking or drinks, use a bit of patience here as your first sip or two will leave the tongue and mouth fairly tingling. But those Citra hops matter, as over time the zest is more acidic in nature. For my part, I was in the habit of buying up every single bomber I saw for a while, and more than a few have made their way down to Camp Wahoo and our UVa tailgates. I am really curious to see how Chris, Kristin, and the rest of the team at Old Ox develop these beers in the coming years, as for what began as a one-off batch on a cold Winter Wednesday, this is just another righteous beer that deserves a spot in your fridge and belly. Now, would you please let us know the next time a sixtel is available???