Gimmicks and craft beer go together like hot dogs and mustard, do they not? Still, even with that being the case, one rarely expects one’s similes to collide in such a literal way. Because that’s what I’ve got for you this morning: MUSTARD BEER.
That’s the official name of this new product from Oskar Blues, by the way. In collaboration with French’s, Oskar Blues presents Mustard Beer. You know the one? That beer made with yellow mustard? Oh yeah, Mustard Beer! Sorry, I was thinking of Ketchup Beer for a moment, my mistake.
It’s a concept that seems designed to entice easy clicks and “ew, that sounds gross” curiosity, but damn it if I couldn’t resist sampling that sort of thing for myself. My expectations, suffice it to say, were low. Little did I know that they would be very much surpassed by a beer that frees itself quite handily from its own marketing tie-in.
Mustard Beer describes itself on the mustard yellow (of course) can as “tropical wheat beer brewed with French’s mustard and other natural flavors,” which does not exactly fill one with confidence when you have no further information. “Tropical wheat beer?” Is it fruited? How? Is this like an American pale wheat ale? Or more of a weizen? What are we looking at here.
The reality is ultimately much more congruous with the concept, I can happily report. Mustard Beer is a lightly tart wheat ale of some kind, in the neighborhood of Berliner weisse or gose, brewed with both fruit and mustard. Directly from the press release, it is “infused with key lime, lemon, tangerine and passion fruit to create a tart, refreshing match for the bright and bold zip of Classic Yellow Mustard—perfect for summertime backyard barbecues.”
“We’re stoked on bold flavors at Oskar Blues Brewery and we never shy away from a challenge,” said Oskar Blues Head Brewer, Juice Drapeau in the press release. “With French’s Mustard Beer we elevated the Classic Yellow Mustard flavor with tangy lemon and lime to create a tropical wheat ale I’d pair with a loaded hot dog on the hottest day of the year.”
You’ll excuse me if I chuckle at the phrase “stoked on bold flavors,” but that assessment of the beer really is right on the money. On the nose, Mustard Beer is tangy and full of fruit, with notes of lemon and grapefruit citrus, into tropical fruit that struck me more as mango/papaya than passion fruit necessarily. There’s also a bit of a herbaceousness or spice that could be mustard, but it’s hard to put a finger on it, if only because that’s really not a flavor that anyone’s nose is trained to seek out in beer. The herbaceous character on the nose, however, gives a slight impression of “pickle brine.”
On the palate, this is bright and immediately refreshing. It’s slightly tart and carried by fruit flavors of mango and passion fruit, with a kiss of sweetness but nothing too syrupy. The mustard shows up here in a way that is more undeniable, an x-factor that works well with the sweetness to give it more of a honey mustard character. I have no idea about the recipe makeup of this beer, but it seems to fall somewhere between the fruited “Florida weisse” and the modern gose, with mustard seed spiciness standing in for coriander. Heaven help me, the concept works beautifully, making something that is refreshing and just exotic enough to be interesting. The slight tartness is definitely key to the flavor profile; I’m not sure it would have worked half as well otherwise.
This is one of those concepts that I was fully prepared to hate, but I must concede that Oskar Blues did a great job with a playfully silly promotion. Drinking it, I legitimately began to crave a ballpark hot dog. I don’t know how you can define that as anything but success.
Brewery: Oskar Blues
City: Longmont, CO
Availability: Limited, 6-packs of 12 oz cans
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident craft beer geek. You can follow him on Twitter for much more drinks writing.