Friday, March 30, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: 11 Below's Oso Bueno American Amber Ale

by Eric Ducote

Happy Good Friday everyone! I'm coming to y'all on back to back days (be sure to check out yesterday's MLB opening day Wakey Whiskey post) with an all new Feature Beer Friday.  I've ventured out of state a few times already, but today will be my first feature from the state of Texas. My mother was over in Houston a few weeks back and was nice enough to bring a few 6-packs back for me (it's like she knows I like beer) so here's the first review from that haul.   

11 Below Brewing is a relative new-comer to the Houston, TX area, a city that not too long ago was virtually a craft beer wasteland outside of Saint Arnold and is now blossoming with breweries everywhere you look. Houston itself is home to around 20 breweries now, not counting the rest of the metro area, which is large to say the least. If you are ever in Houston (to check out an Astros game maybe?) 11 Below can be found in an industrial park just to the NNW of the beltway.  They are open every Thurday and Friday from 5 to 9, and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 6.  Like all the other Texas breweries, they operate on a token system, where $10 buys you admission and you get three tokens to redeem for beer.  It wasn't too long ago that Louisiana breweries operated their tours/tastings in a similar fashion, and hopefully Texas can catch up to the taproom trend before long. 

Oso Bueno Amber from 11 Below Brewing
Now for the beer itself, Oso Bueno is an American Amber Ale, a stalwart of styles that has been popular for years among novice and expert craft beer drinkers.  The style is defined by the BJCP as: "An amber, hoppy, moderate-strength American craft beer with a caramel malty flavor. The balance can vary quite a bit, with some versions being fairly malty and others being aggressively hoppy. Hoppy and bitter versions should not have clashing flavors with the caramel malt profile." Oso Bueno (which translates into "good bear" and don't miss the pun...) clocks in at 5.3% abv and 22 IBU, which puts it on the lower end for the style and has me expecting that this will be a more malt-forward example.

This beer pours a reddish brown, deeper than what I would consider a true amber color but not all the way into brown ale territory. True to expectation, the aroma on this one is rich with toffee and caramel, with just a hint of hop bitterness adding a bit of a floral note. There are no surprises on the taste, the malt sweetness dominates and provides a nice change of pace from all the NEIPAs I've been drinking lately. This offering is a smooth easy drinking malty amber ale that definitely has a place in my fridge. Unfortunately nothing from 11 Below is available in Louisiana yet, but if you are ever in Houston (or other parts of SE Texas) and you see the Good Bear, don't hesitate to give it a try.

Cheers, and happy Good Friday to you all! 

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