Beautiful imagery adorns beautiful beer
This past weekend brought news that Bike Rack Brewing Co. in Bentonville was releasing a Czech-style pilsner at the brewery, and well, I just had to have some. So I drove the twenty miles north from my home in Fayetteville and dropped in on the small brewery that is doing some rather big things these days. Not only are the special releases coming with greater frequency as of late, but Bike Rack is also making noise with its own record label. Check out KNWA's story for more on that unique bit of news.
Although I arrived with a singular purpose in mind, my focus drifted once I laid eyes on the cans of the new saison that brewer Josiah Moody put together to celebrate the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The depiction of a dandelion on the label was intensely beautiful, and was a signal to the ingredient that separate Moody's saison from other examples of the style. You can read more about the inspiration for the beer and the label art--which was created by Bike Rack's Jullian Wilson--at Crystal Bridge's website.
A couple of things strike me about the beer.
First, Moody seems to be tapping into his creative side more and more these days, which is exactly what he was known for while he was brewing down in Little Rock. His penchant for using unique ingredients was celebrated during his time at Vino's, where he incorporated things like plums, pluots, ginger, and watermelon that he sourced at Dunbar community garden. Many Northwest Arkansas beer drinkers were excited about his arrival at Bike Rack for this reason (and folks in Central Arkansas were equally sad to see him go), especially since the brewery's proximity to the Brightwater culinary school would seemingly lend itself to a foodie influence on the beer. But the reality of launching Bike Rack's new 20-barrel brewhouse and establishing flagship beers in the market probably slowed things down a bit for Moody. Now we are seeing glimpses of Moody's true DNA in some of his recent special releases. He makes a solid IPA, amber, and blonde...but it's in the space beyond traditional styles where he really shines.
Second, we need more saisons in our life...particularly during the blazing heat of the Arkansas summer. There isn't a style more refreshing and season-appropriate than saison. Fossil Cove recently introduced a version for its 6th anniversary, and Ozark Beer Co. in Rogers has brewed at least a couple over the years. I recall having a tart saison the last time I visited Rebel Kettle Brewing Co. in Little Rock. I'm sure there are others that I can't think of as I write this, but in my opinion, every single brewery in Arkansas should have a saison on tap in the months of June, July, August, and September.
And, oh yeah--the Czech-style pilsner is pretty good too. It was, after all, the reason I drove to Bentonville in the first place.