The Angel & the Sword (Can release party on Tuesday, March 21st)
Your friendly bartenders hear a lot of questions again and again. No doubt one that crops up the most often is “What’s the Angel and the Sword?” We pride ourselves on naming beers by their styles so you know what you’re getting, but this very special beer deserved a very special name. This celebration of great malts of the world is named after a statue in Toledo, Spain.
The statue depicts an angel holding a sword aloft in supplication. It’s often called the Angel of Peace. Toledo in the Middle Ages was known as a center for translation and publishing and was famous for the peaceful coexistence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Our beer embraces the same spirit of cooperation, using some of our favorite malts from around the world.
So we’re known for brewing traditional, origin-specific beers, but our one-of-a-kind Angel and the Sword boldly uses the finest malted barley from a handful of great brewing regions. See if you can taste a little of Germany, England, and North America in this sophisticated celebration of malt, the heart and soul of your favorite beverage.
A base of ESB and Munich malts is enriched with a handful of secret specialty malts and judiciously hopped with two of England’s most traditional varieties, fuggles and East Kent goldings. We call it a malty amber ale, but you can think of it as a less hoppy more sessionable take on an ESB. Either way, a beer doesn’t need to fit neatly in some category to be great.
The taste of the Angel and the Sword is unparalleled and unique. It’s malt rich with caramel and bready overtones and nutty and toasty notes. There’s just enough of a woodsy English hop note to balance all that malt. At 4.6% alcohol and a modest 32 IBUs, it’s an eminently sessionable brew.
In a craft culture that sometimes competes to see who can fit more hops into a serving of beer, we wanted to offer a reminder that without malt, there’s no beer. America’s great inclusive beer culture welcomes every beer drinker and it has room for every style of beer and every brewing philosophy.
And like historical Toledo, the site of the statue that gives our beer its name, the Angel and the Sword is a celebration of unity and international cooperation. Now that’s something to drink to.
Way back in January, we offered a peek at four delicious Scottish ales, starting with our light, dry, and very drinkable 70 Shilling. All four are now available, and each one is unique and very tasty. This selection of Scottish styles offers something for every palate.
The Scottish Export Ale is brand new. The “shilling” rated ales tended to be dark, malty, and somewhat sweet. The Scots started brewing special “export” ales that were more like the lighter, drier English pale ales. This is the historical style our export ale is modeled on. We use pilsner malt as the base and hop it somewhat modestly. The Scottish Export Ale is 5.6% alcohol, but light bodied with a dry finish. It’s a beautiful amber color with some toasty roast malt and a nice clean finish.
We also recently re-released our original Scottish Ale. You can think of it as a 90 Shilling. It’s dark and malty, but hopped a bit more than the style generally is. It comes in at 5.7% alcohol and 44 IBUs. The base malt is Golden Promise, a traditional Scottish-grown spring barley. We hop it with good old American Cascade hops, which show subtly on the finish. The beer is a deep reddish mahogany color with loads of caramel malt notes and a little spice. Despite the big malt presence, it doesn’t finish cloyingly, as some Scottish ales do.
Finally, our “Wee Bit Heavy Ale” is this year’s third beer in our “big beer” series. That’s right, Civil Life beer topping the scales at 6.5% alcohol … around these parts, that’s plenty big. Wee Heavies are Scottish strong ales. Heavy refers to the full body. Such beers, being higher in alcohol, were originally served in a “wee” glass. The Wee Bit Heavy is deep copper to brown in color with a rich, layered malt character. It’s complex with huge caramelized malt notes, nice spice, and a little sweetness. If you see a fifty-year-old Ford pickup truck with a bed full of growlers, you’ll know our regular Keith has replenished his supply. Hurry down before he finishes it!
No matter what you like, one of our Scottish ales is sure to please. You don’t see an awful lot of Scottish ales at American craft breweries, but your friends at the Civil Life are making sure great styles keep flowing, especially those that celebrate the malt backbone of every great beer. Cheers!
We recently released a new beer sure to please those drinkers who enjoy nice hop character, without excessive bitterness or lack of balance. Our American Session Ale is a truly American take on our beloved British Bitter. While the bitter (an English pale ale) is made with British malts and hopped with East Kent Goldings, the American Session Ale is made from all American malted grain and hopped with El Dorado, a variety developed less than ten years ago.
Like our bitter, the American Session Ale is a modest 4.2% alcohol and just 40 IBUs. It fits perfectly with our philosophy of full-flavored session beers that always keep the malt and hops in perfect balance.
A few years ago, brewers of IPAs began to develop beers that would appeal to session beer drinkers. With many IPAs coming in around 7% alcohol, they were not the best choices for those who wanted to enjoy a few pints with friends. These brewers began making session IPAs coming in around 5%. Unfortunately, some of these beers were hugely hopped and bitter, but somewhat thin.
Our approach is to make a balanced beer with enough malt structure to support a generous hop load. And the hops are used in such a way as to highlight flavor and aromatics without imparting a tongue-punishing bitterness.
A short digression on dry hopping … the American Session Ale is dry hopped with the same El Dorado used at each stage of the brewing. Those who homebrew know that hops are added at multiple stages during the boil. The earlier the hops are added, the more bitterness they impart. The later the hops are added, the more flavor they impart. If you crush a hop cone between your fingers, you feel an oily resin and smell some intense notes of fruit or flowers or herbs. The compounds responsible for those aromas are quite volatile and will dissipate quickly in the presence of high heat. Dry hopping (not dry at all, as it turns out) is a way to capture those divine scents. Hops steep in the cool beer for several days or so. The result is intense aromatics.
The smells and flavors of El Dorado hops are very enticing. Overall there is an intense note of candied fruit. You might detect apricot, peach, melon, citrus, berry, tropical fruit, wild flowers, and caramelized notes of honey.
Come down for a balanced pint that combines malt presence and delightfully fruity hop characteristics. Like all our beers, it invites civil consumption and rewards every civil drinker.
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.