Review: Gilgamesh Brewing Mamba

Alcoholic Tea, Black Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Tangerine Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The bergamot and the tangerine aspects were definitely at the forefront in the taste - citrus notes to the core. The honey gave it a creamy texture similar to mead, but without the wine-like acidic quality."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9.5/10
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Sometime in early June, a friend of mine sent me a rather peculiar text. Paraphrased, it read: "There's a beer out there that uses tea leaves instead of hops." Naturally, this peaked my interest. Two of my favorite beverages are tea and beer (with a close second belonging to Diet 7-Up). I asked her for more information. She sent off what she new, that being only the name of the brewery. The beer in question - dubbed "Mamba" - was produced by a small outfit out of Turner, Oregon (just shy of Salem, the state capitol) called Gilgamesh Brewing. Not exactly in my neck of the woods, but close enough to almost taste it.

I got in touch with their marketing maven, and she kindly passed along a list of the different events that they (and their beer) would be present at. Most, unfortunately, were around the Salem area. Being on the poor side, I couldn't quite justify the trek. However, one of the events on the roster was a Portland locale; a meet the brewers shindig dubbed "Fringe Fest". The reason for the name became clear once I saw what weekend it fell on, the very same one as the "jug"-gernaut known as Oregon Brewfest. A behemoth of a beer event I also planned on going to. Argh...choices.

Being the truly indecisive drinker I am, I chose to do both. Thursday and Friday were spent at Brewfest, Saturday belonged to Fringe Fest. It turned out, the most fun I had was at the smaller event. Brewfest ended up being "Bro"-Fest, and it was incredibly difficult to enjoy a good beer when everyone shouted "WHOOO!" every five seconds. At Fringe Fest, however, I had the time to actually meet the people who crafted the beer. And silently contemplate on it, if I chose to. To my surprise, many of the folks with Gilgamesh were present at the event.

They were an entirely family-run op, all the brewers were brothers, and their spouses/other siblings took care of the admin responsibilities. Along with that, most of them had day jobs on top of the brewery biz. Clan Radtke were a busy bunch, but how was their beer?

Of the three I tried, the titular Mamba - the proverbial pointman of their operation - was the undisputed champ. Ingredients included honey, tangerine zest, rye, and the much-touted tea leaves. After some prodding with geeky questions, I learned that the leaves in question were Earl Grey. The bergamot and the tangerine aspects were definitely at the forefront in the taste - citrus notes to the core. The honey gave it a creamy texture similar to mead, but without the wine-like acidic quality. The brew had no head (i.e. foam) to speak of, but that may have been part of the carbonation. I have no idea, I'm not an expert on the subject. All I know is that it was fizzy excellence.

The one member of the Brothers Radtke that I talked to told me that the original name for it was Black Mamba, but the name seemed to throw people off since it wasn't a dark ale. The mamba-ish aspect came from the color of the snake's tongue - a thick, off-pink palette. That I could see. He also touted that the beer won a few accolades this year, both at 2010 Spring Beer & Wine Fest and the 2010 Oregon Garden Brewfest. In my not-so-humble opinion, they have reason to be proud. It's a damn fine beer that is further accentuated by damn fine ingredients. I wish I had something more eloquent to say on the subject, but I don't. If you ever find yourself near Salem on their growler fill-up day, pick this up.

— To purchase Gilgamesh Brewing Mamba, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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