|"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."|
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.
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