Imperial Kvass by Bent Paddle Brewing

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

It’s possible we’re at Peak Weird Beer right now, and we may never again return to this era. Every week, it seems, a Minnesota brewery puts out some mind-bending concoction that flirts with the edge of plausibility and known flavor profiles. Look at these recent reviews on our site: Fulton’s remarkable Culture Project Two, a coffee lager from Modist, and barrel-aged Cherry Dust from Indeed.

In that spirit, here is another bottle for your consideration (and, hopefully, your physical intake): Bent Paddle’s Valve Jockey Series Imperial Kvass, a 6.5 percent ABV, 10 IBU take on what is sometimes a less than 1 percent ABV, northern-European fermented beverage often made from rye bread. The beer’s humble, folksy roots remind us of Sima, a lovely and refreshing fermented beverage from Finland that we sometimes make along with Finnish crullers.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Bent Paddle’s kvass-inspired beer (we paid $10 for 750 milliliters at Elevated Beer Wine and Spirits) is a light-but-malty ale with spearmint, raisin, and lemon-peel flavors. The nose is bready and sweet, evoking Boston brown bread, and the body boasts rye spices, low acidity, and a retiring-to-the-point-of-bashful hint of spearmint. The finish is moist and clean, and the overall effect is a beer that’s both malty and refreshing, not your typical one-two punch. This is a beer that could complement anything with a honey or maple component, and there’s a gentle earthiness that would make it a good fit with ramen and / or mushroom-forward dishes. Is it a bit weird? No doubt. But it’s lovable, and it’s different. It’s a sign that anything goes in this glorious era of brew.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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