Brash Brewing is a new entrant into the local brewing scene. Sort of. The beers are brewed in Ipswich, but Brit-turned-Texan Ben Fullelove is the man behind the project. He brews here because of what he describes as "archaic" laws in Texas that prohibit him from making the beer in that state. Fullelove created the recipes and the marketing for the beer, and the folks from Clown Shoes distribute and ship it.
About that marketing: Brash is quite deliberately aggressive. In the "about" section on the company's website, Fullelove writes, in a veiled shout-out to Stone Brewing Company, "Obviously you have amazing taste, that’s why you’re on this site." The labels are colorful and creative.
I sampled three Brash beers: Item Nine Ale, Texas Exile, and The Bollocks. All three are big, boozy beers. It took me three nights to get through them all.
Item Nine Ale is both a wheat beer and an IPA. Make that a double IPA. With the lowest ABV of the bunch, this one clocks in at 9 percent. If this is the entry-level Brash brew, membership requirements into this club are stiff.
Item Nine Ale pours a golden color like an IPA. Owing to a generous use of Galaxy hops, citrus notes dominate the aroma. The beer is bitter and balanced, with tropical fruit at the forefront. The mouthfeel is light. The beer is unfiltered, and tiny particles swim at the bottom of my glass. I wrote down "solid IPA" when drinking this one.
Texas Exile, an imperial brown sugar oatmeal porter, is a departure from the first beer, but it's no less boozy. Clocking in at 10.5 percent ABV, it's brewed with cold-pressed coffee. On the label, a bobby cop on a tricycle pedals up to a group of border patrol officers. The scene "kind of represents everything we do," said Fullelove. "A little punk rock, a little anti-establishment, with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor."
The label is light-hearted, but the beer is heavy. It pours thick and smells of roasted beans and chocolate. On the first sip I get coffee, caramel, and cocoa nibs. The mouthfeel is thick, and it tastes a little like a milkshake. I'm left with a coffee aftertaste and the satisfaction you only get from a good cup.
The Bollocks Imperial IPA is the last beer I tried, and it might be my favorite. This is a big, strong double-IPA. It weighs in at 12 percent ABV (holy crap) and packs 110 IBUs. As Fullelove puts it, "It’s the liquid equivalent of Lenny in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Gently tending rabbits then suddenly….snap, it’s a whirlwind of crazy."
The Bollocks pours a dark amber with an ambitious off-white head. The brew is surprisingly balanced for a beer of this strength. The bitterness never goes away, but at times the citrus notes and sweet, caramel malt come through in surprising ways. It's not delicate, but it's not out of whack, either.
There's nothing timid about the Brash brews. I liked them, but I also found myself wondering in what situations I would crack one. You'll need help to take down even one of these big bottles. If you're you're a hardcore beer drinker looking to try something new, give these beers a shot.
A side note: On Wednesday I’ll be posting my 12 Beers of Christmas list, and at noon that day I’ll be hanging out in the comments section of that entry to answer your questions and just rap about beer. Join me.