5/27/19: MadTree Brewing Company's Vernal Beckoning

8:08 AM

Memorial Day, as I heard on the news once in high school, is the start of summer. Is it the official start of it? No, not quite--that's still nearly a month off. But still, with all the cookouts and people heading to beaches today, summer might as well be here.



Which is why I really wanted to get to this post before today, but, unfortunately, that just wasn't in the cards. I figure, though, as long as I can get it up and out before the majority of those cookouts happen, I'll be set. Because, you see, this isn't a summer beer. In fact, MadTree's Vernal Beckoning is perhaps the most decidedly spring beer I've encountered.

Folks who have been reading the blog for a bit know that I have a certain affinity for MadTree. They are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, my absolute favorite Cincinnati brewery. The place was founded in 2013 (most of this, by the way, is coming straight from their "About MadTree" page), by some guys who decided to quit their day jobs and see if they could make their dream brewery a reality. The first Cincinnati brewery to can, MadTree underwent a massive expansion in 2017, upping the amount of beer they could brew and the number of good people who could join the team. Now, they have their core series of beer (which saw a design/line-up change this year), seasonals, Trunk Series, Funk Series, last year's Sensorium Series, and this year's Understory Series (the latter of these two series are taproom-exclusives).

Whew. That's a lot of beer.

Vernal Beckoning has been an on-tap only spring release for that last few years, and one of which I always anticipated getting my first yearly growler. This year, it was canned for the first time as part of the Understory Series, meaning that I finally had cause to give it a treatment here. It's Untappd profile lists that it's a 6.1% ABV pale ale brewed with Mosaic and Amarillo as well as Belgian and American yeast strains. If it's like its older, tap-only versions, it should be a little complex.

There's a good wallop of citrus on the beer's nose. Really, that is the majority of what I'm picking up from the bouquet. Looking more deeply, there is some of that good and dry Belgian yeastiness, but only the smallest hint. This is an ale that smells like spring, so I'm a little surprised that Purrl didn't give it more than six whiffs.


There's a lot of flavor in this tallboy: orange, lemon, lemondrop, banana (from the yeast, most certainly), bread, and a teeny tiny amount of pepper. The hoppy bitterness is here, only way back in the finish, where you'd typically find the dryness from the Belgian yeast. Maybe that dryness is here, just washed out by the hops? I can't tell, but if that's the case MadTree's found an elegant solution to get around a problem that so many people (myself excluded here--I love me some Belgians) take with Belgian yeast.

This is a full beer--it's more like what I'd expect from a stout than a pale ale. It's thick, it's somewhat creamy. None of these things are bad, they just go to enhance the crazy cool overall quality of the ale.

One of my absolute favorite things about spring is--no, not the pollen and my terrible allergies to it, though that is a damn good guess!--finally opening the windows and airing out my space after the long, terrible, cold winter. From when I was a teenager and into my first few years of college, I'd throw in my old Legend of Zelda cartoon VHS and watch the spring cleaning episode.

You'll note that I didn't actually do much cleaning when I'd opening the windows for the first time. But, I'd enjoy the subtle, oncoming warmth of those late-winter/early-spring days. That's what Vernal Beckoning is like: a fair breeze carrying some unspoken warmth through your window after the long winter.

I have historically been a big fan of Vernal Beckoning and, now that it's in cans, I may be even moreso. Last time I was at MadTree (which was last week at some point) they still had plenty of four-packs. If you're in any kind of proximity to Cincinnati, do yourself a favor and go grab some. I'm giving it a 9.0/10. Now, if you'll excuse me, my neighbor is wheeling out his grill, so I gotta go and get this posted. Happy Memorial Day!

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