Culture Collision

by Russ Kane

In 1850, the man behind the original New Braunfels Brewing Company, Julius Rennert, brewed his first beer—generating a following that lasted beyond the 1919 enactment of Prohibition. However, that all came to an end in 1925 when authorities raided the brewery. Nearly 90 years later, the husband and wife team of Kelly and Lindsey Meyer, operators of a string of eight successful fitness centers, contemplated their future. “Back then,” Kelly says, “I was a guy with two hobbies: exercise and beer-making. If I could run a few miles and then down a few brews, I was a happy guy. Having done the exercise business, my wife and I decided to go full-bore into my other hobby.”

The couple decided to reincarnate the New Braunfels Brewing Company (NBBCo) with a desire to make beers that would stand out. “We started by making one beer for each of the five elements of Chinese philosophy—Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Heaven—each with a distinctly different flavor,” says Kelly. Later, they added the “Fun-damentals” series, which allowed them to play around more and take risks with flavor. It was during this risk-taking phase that NBBCo joined the retro-yet-edgy craft beer-making movement with its Sangre de Shiva, a project that successfully marries two unlikely partners: NBBCo’s Shiva’s Tears (a dark Weizenbock stout-style beer) and seasoned wine barrels previously used to age Texas red wines. “We get barrels still wet with lees and wine residue in them,” says Kelly. “Within hours, we fill them with Shiva’s Tears. We let the beer age for about a year and bottle it with a small dose of sweeteness and our local windborne New Braunfels wild yeast that brings on bottle fermentation and carbonation. [The result] is absolutely a taste of the Texas Hill Country and downtown New Braunfels.”

NBBCo currently offers four blends of Sangre de Shiva (listed in the suggested order for a vertical tasting). Blend 3 was aged in Dry Comal Creek Vineyards Black Spanish barrels and has a one-month bottle-age. It’s brown-red in color and nearly opaque with an orange rim. Coffee and mocha aromas linger, and tangy, leesy and woody notes build on the palate. It’s only slightly effervescent with sweet red-wine notes that play mid-palate. The finish is pleasantly sour. Blend 2 was aged in William Chris Vineyards Syrah barrels and has a seven-month bottle-age. It has a less-opaque brown color leading to an orange-yellow rim. There are toasty aromas of roasted grain and caramel, and a notable effervescence from bottle-aging. Roasted coffee and toffee notes are also on the palate, and the finish is bright and tangy. And Blend 1 was aged in William Chris Vineyards Enchanté (red blend) barrels and has a one-year bottle-age. It’s brown-yellow in color with nose-popping effervescence and aromas. The complex palate includes roasted malt and toffee flavors, and the developing viscosity and carbonation provide an exciting mouthfeel. The finish is a real twang of acidity.

Blend 4 will debut sometime in December 2015, and Blend 5 (aged in Dry Comal Creek Vineyards Malbec barrels) in January 2016. NBBCo beers are available at the brewery and at many Hill Country H-E-Bs, Whole Foods Markets and Spec’s. Buy to drink now or hold up to five years. If you have the patience to wait, each blend will only get better.

Find out more at nbbrewing.com, or call 830-626-2739.