There are so many reasons to love beer but one that stands out to me is the vast array of different styles that fall under the moniker of beer. From a funky Belgian saison to an uber hoppy west coast IPA to an English mild there is a style of beer out there to suit everyone’s needs.
The beer landscape is also constantly evolving and changing churning out interesting new beers that could one day become a classic style. Brewers everywhere are always looking for a way to stand out from the crowd by making something new and interesting and a Martin House Brewing Co. out of Fort Worth, Texas has come up with an interesting take on an old classic style.
In 2019, Martin House combined forces with the Best Maid Pickles to create a sour pickle beer. A year later, the pair upped the ante and brewed a spicy version along with a few other variants including a bloody mary version and an extremely hot version. The base beer for the new creation is a gose which is a classic German sour beer brewed with salt. The Martin House Best Maid Spicy Pickle Beer was first released in February 2020 and distributed locally in Texas, but I happen to have a can out here in California and I am part excited and part scared to try it so here we go.
The beer pours a dark gold with a fizzy thin white head that disappears very quickly. The second I crack open the can I can smell the beer and it does not smell like beer. It smells like a marinade with spicy peppers and garlic right off the bat. Diving in for a proper smell and I get a bit of dill, more of an earthy hot pepper and, of course, pickles. It smells exactly like you would expect a jar of spicy pickles to smell. As I sit and analyze the really peculiar aroma, I notice the steady line of carbonation rushing up from the bottom of the glass which is a good sign.
As I take my first sip the first thing that hits me is the really thick mouthfeel. It goes well beyond the full mouthfeel that is normally a positive and it comes off almost slimy. Immediately I am reminded of an off batch of Fantome Saison I had a few years back that was actively going through the “sick” phase of bacteria fermentation in the bottle. This is not quite that bad but, there is a reason my brain made the instantaneous connection to one of the most flawed beers I have ever had. In short, it’s not off to a good start. Once I get past the mouthfeel, I get a small punch of acidity than a wave of funky earthly hot peppers. This is not a pleasant sensation and as soon as my brain can register what is going on, I get the briny pickles to make things even weirder. I swallow the first sip and realize I might have made a mistake with this one but, I already poured the beer and started writing so I am committed. The finish is a steady reminder of why I did not enjoy the first sip, but it keeps hanging around. The spice level is not overpowering but it is very noticeable, and it refuses to leave.
I start to convince myself that it is a unique beer, and it will take a few sips to acclimate to it. For the sake of the review, I have to keep going. I take a deep breath and bravely go in for a second sip. Turns out the second sip was just as bad as the first. Sip number three—shit this is bad. Keep going I tell myself, it can’t be this bad. I start to get more of the garlic as I continue this battle of attrition and that is not a redeeming quality in beer. A half dozen healthy sips in and I have to stop. Looking at Untappd this beer has about 3000 check-ins and a 3.6 overall rating. What am I missing? I am going out on a limb here and saying that this beer was not made for me. The overcritical beer nerd that analyses beers is not the target market for this monstrosity.