Call to Arms Brewing | Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Tasting
The nearly four-year-old Denver brewery, Call to Arms Brewing (CTA), won a 2018 World Cup gold in the Fresh or Wet Hop Ale category for a beer inspired by the crew’s love of Billy Madison with its More Like Bore-O-Phyll. In September, during GABF week, the brewery held its third annual [email protected]#*ing Call to Arms Catalina Wine Mixer! Simply, the brewery deftly intertwines the art of sophisticated beer production with relaxed, easy-going fun. And, the recent release of Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Tasting (RRRGT), a farmhouse ale aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brett Claussennii only further cements that concept; one should not feel compelled to stick out one’s pinky—just kick back and enjoy a beer that’s really, really, ridiculously good.
After back-to-back days of exploring CTA beer and chatting with the crew during GABF Week in September 2018, I couldn’t help but wonder, as the beer arrived at my door in Chicago: Is its beer as good at home as it is during special events and GABF week?
Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Tasting
RRRGT serves as one of the most approachable “sophisticated beers” one will find. For wine drinkers, cocktail connoisseurs and lovers of cider, RRRGT could sufficiently serve as a gateway beer; a demonstration that not all beer tastes like hop bombs or caramel malt. For those that love a good IPA or pilsner, the RRRGT also shows that a little alchemy doesn’t alter a beer’s easy-drinking nature.
Though the brewers came to CTA with experience, the first RRRGT release on March 2, 2017, proved to be the first ever wild/barrel-aged beer executed at CTA. Owner and co-founder Chris Bell explained that step-number-one involved an idea producing a beer that would inspire beer drinkers to enjoy multiple times.
“Having worked with a number of other Bretts before opening CTA,” noted Bell. “We knew we wanted a low funk presence and some nice fruit without allowing the Chardonnay to overpower anything that the Brett was contributing. We always have an idea of what we would like to accomplish with any given beer. It doesn’t always work out that way, but in this case, I believe the goal was really to let each component speak on its own, while still playing nice together, and I think we accomplished that.”
Now, 17 batches later, one wonders if CTA might move on to something new.
“I hope it’s not the last! We have some real plans in the works as far as our barrel program is concerned,” said Bell. “One thing Jon [Cross] and I have been trying to focus on is brewing new challenging styles with more frequency. Nonetheless, we’d still like to have this beer around, when we can squeeze it in.”
And why not, right?
“It’s so simple. it really lets each element have a say in the flavor, which keeps the flavor profile dynamic without adding a bunch of different fruits or cultures,” explained Bell.
The term “simple,” is easy for a brewer to say, but the idea of the base beer, the decision to use Chardonnay barrels and Brett (let alone Brett C vs Brett B, perhaps), is the mark of professional brewers who have mastered both the science and art of brewing.
Bell explained, “More often than not we use our house culture, but in the case of RRRGT we put a fresh Brett C. pitch in the barrels along with some French Saison yeast and that was it. We wanted a delicate beer that would really showcase the Brett and Chardonnay. This was also our first ever bottle-conditioned beer, which lent itself well to the delicate theme.”
What Does Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Tasting Say about Call To Arms?
The amount of thought that goes into RRRGT accomplishes two things.
First, it results in a great beer worthy of ordering again and again. Though Bell never mentioned it, making beers that customers want to drink repeatedly is also a smart business move — an aspect of craft brewing that’s oft-ignored. And who would complain about a brewery that is gifted at producing beer so good it begs to be enjoyed several times?
Secondly, it compels beer drinkers to try other CTA creations. It’s pretty simple, really, one can’t help but wonder: If this beer is so good, what else does this brewery do well?
CTA does several things well.
As previously mentioned, the brewery won a World Cup Gold in the Fresh or Wet Hop Ale category, so the brewery does more than just concentrate on barrels.
Nonetheless, barrels are a large part of what they do, and they do it well. “Both of us really love toying with different beers in this realm. It’s always exciting, sometimes beers you think you’ll dump, end up working so well with another barrel that you’re pretty sure you’ll never be able to re-create it,” noted Bell.
Finally, he said, “We are currently working on way to expand our Barrel Aged, Sour, wild program.”
Makes sense for a brewery that knows how to make a Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Tasting Farmhouse Saison.