When I briefly holidayed in Prague a decade or so ago, one of my most treasured memories was picking up a crate of Kozel lager longnecks from the corner store and then returning the crate with the empty bottles for a few coins or a discount on the next one. Most people would probably more fondly remember walking across Charles Bridge to visit St Vitus Cathedral, or having lunch in Wenceslas Square near the Astronomical Clock, but I guess I’m just built different (a beer pig).
When I first laid eyes upon the 750ml swing top bottles being purveyed by Kirk and Dragana at Alexandria’s 2 Halfs Brewing Distilling, my days in Praha came flooding back. The contents may be widely different to what was available back then, but the feeling is still there. What's more, the beer list at any given time at 2 Halfs has the exact vibe of the kind of brewery I’d run: traditional European styles mixed with hoppy new world pales of various types. The three newest additions are no exception.
First up for this trio is the Keller Pils, their German style pilsner. German pils tend to be a little lighter on the malt and more assertive with the bitterness than Czech pilsners owing to the differences between the country’s malt, hops and water profile. The 2 Halfs Keller Pils starts with aromas of fresh pretzel, water crackers and spicy noble hops. There’s a slight graininess to the malt body that finishes clean with a relatively assertive bitterness. Any reservations I had about drinking three quarters of a litre of beer in order to write up a few tasting notes were very quickly dispelled.
Second is the SIPA or sour IPA. Sour IPAs have never really been a huge hit but that doesn’t mean the style should be written off completely. I think the problem might be that they are very difficult to brew well and can be a bit confused as to what it wants to be. Is it just a hoppy sour beer or an IPA that’s got a bit of tartness?
For their version, 2 Halfs have gone with the latter: a 6.6 percent ABV IPA with a bit of kettle souring to bring forward some lacto tang without dropping the pH too dramatically. Kettle souring a beer will usually mute the aromas but there’s still a decent mélange of fruit salad lurking amongst the lacto. On the palate is a dry fruit punch of pineapple, kiwi fruit and citrus with a tartness that leans more towards juicy than mouth-puckering.
Finally, we have Sim-Citt, a classic West Coast IPA with old school US hop favourites Simcoe and Citra. Combinations of Simcoe and Citra have been around for a long time, and with good reason. Survey modern brewers and ask them their favourite hop varieties, and I’d wager these two probably make the podium.
And Sim-Citt is a great example of a modern West Coast IPA. A stripped back malt grist, devoid of the caramel malts that once proliferated in US IPAs, with a focus on late hopping that finishes super clean and dry. Expect lemon peel, grapefruit, yellow peaches with a base of resinous pine on a smooth but solid bitterness. I’d assumed this was on the lower end of the ABV spectrum given how freely I poured it down my gullet but at 6.4% and nearly four standard drinks for the bottle, Sim-Citt is the kind of danger I can absolutely get behind.
Published January 28, 2022 2022-01-28 00:00:00