A beer just changed my life…Well, Beers, plural. No, really. Okay, let me explain.
Superior Bathhouse in Hot Springs is not your typical brewery. Not only are they the only brewery in the world to use thermal spring water in their brewing process, but they are brewing craft beer in a building that was carved out of limestone and mountainous rocks almost exactly 100 years ago. Located on Historic Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Springs, this brewery is up to something.
I like beer, in fact there are some beers that I really, really like but I would not count myself as a craft beer aficionado. My husband is much more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about beer and I’m more of the foodie/cocktails type but I have been getting more and more into the craft scene here in Arkansas and I do like to drink a nice cold pint every once in awhile especially in the warmer months, so I thought I would stop by Superior and see what they had brewing up for the spring and summer.
The owner and brewmaster, Rose Schweikhart hooked me up with a sampling of what they have on tap right now and we talked seasonal offerings. That’s when things got deliciously funky.
I had my first sour and, y’all, it was good. The Sour Dunkel “Ba-Donk-a-Donk Dunkel” (4.6 abv) has been on the menu since October but has yet to really take off. Sours aren’t a common thing in Central Arkansas yet, but once people catch on, I predict I won’t be the only convert. I’ve been told sours aren’t for everyone, and honestly I can see that, but do me this solid- try this beer. “It’s hit or miss with people and I understand that. It’s funky.” Schweikhart says with a grin. “We made that in October and it’s been developing in the kegs ever since.”
The Dunkel is a truly unique beer- It’s bone dry with that sharp ”wang” that you would expect from something called a “sour” and that funkiness is strangely and powerfully enticing. The coolest thing about this beer is that since it’s been on tap since fall it’s been changing over time, so everyone who has tried it since it went on tap has been experiencing a slightly different version. Don’t let the dark color fool you, though it was brewed for fall with Oktoberfest hops, barley and yeast this is a great option for spring & summer as the use of German Wheat it gives it a crispy “wheat-beer” finish.
I also got a sneak peak at “Owney Madden’s #1” which will be sold exclusively at the brewery and across the street at The Ohio Club as their signature beer.
“I don’t want to say too much about it because we are doing a whole launch on April 20th,” says Schweikhart “but this is kind of a custom developed recipie.”
The recipe, which is still a work in progress though Schweikhart say’s it’s almost what I’m tasting. #1 is an homage to a heritage beer brewed by Madden’s operation during prohibition. Owney himself used to frequent The Ohio Club and the bathhouses when he wasn’t duking it out over bootlegger territories with Al Capone. This beer is on my growler-fill-up list for summer. It’s super light & lemony but still somewhat complex. “That’s our water ‘flavoring’ coming through,” says Schweikhart, referring to the unique purity of the spring water that literally pours out of the mountain behind bathhouse row. This is one beer I plan on day-drinking on the dock at my house this summer. Gangsta style.
Last but not least, the beer that rocked my world the hardest- The Beez Kneez (4.9% abv).
A Hitchcock Spring Kolsch infused with Local Basil & Arkansas Honey. Wow. I’m trying really hard not to fan-girl all over the page as I’m typing this but OHMYFREAKINGGOSHYALLDON’
Other Superior Beers to check out this spring/summer:
McClard’s Barn Burner Farmhouse Ale (6.5% abv)- made with grains smoked at the famous Hot Springs BBQ joint.
SPA (Superior Pale Ale) comes in at 5.2% abv, and is great Pale Ale for beginners or just fans of English Style Pub Ales as it’s not too hoppy and has a bit of malty sweetness.
And For you gravity-chasers, the whopping 9.5% abv Chaudfontaine Houblon (which means “Hot Springs” in French)- a Belgian-style hopped tripel with some interesting undertones of spice and acidity.