Eckert Brewing Kristina’s Challenge
My First Eckert Malting & Brewing Review
A “Hop Forward” Gluten Free Rice Ale
This is my first taste of Eckert Malting and Brewing Comany’s beer. The Kristina’s Challenge is labeled as a “hop forward rice ale” so I chose it first due to my fondness for hop forward styles. It’s worth noting that I haven’t had many beers that were solely brewed with rice, and I think this is the first dedicated gluten free craft beer I’ve tried with an all-rice base.
Eckert Malting and Brewing is a malthouse and small craft brewery located in Chico, California. They are a dedicated gluten free facility that produces several varieties of GF rice malt. Eckert also currently bottles 4 different styles of beer for limited distribution. They even did a gluten free version of the Resilience IPA, the collaboration beer that benefits Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s wildfire recovery fund. The fund exists to help rebuild the Northern California community after the notorious Camp Fire.
I have several Eckert beers hitting the blog over the coming months, including reviews for Doppel Dawg (a very dark rice ale), Not a Quad (Belgian) and Eckert’s Select Lager. So stay tuned. In the meantime, let’s crack open this “hop forward rice ale”. Perhaps I should expect something similar to a pale or IPA?
The Taste Test
Kristina’s Challenge by Eckert Brewing
The Kirstina’s Challenge didn’t have too much of a head when poured, but it did boast a cloudy harvest orange color. It has a wonderful aroma. Very hoppy indeed, with twinges of apricot and spice. It is marketed as “live and unfiltered”. It may have had a thin head, but it’s a very good looking beer.
The hop profile does hit you instantly. Yet somehow, the mouthfeel is still light and refreshing. It’s very bitter and bold, but also earthy and faintly fruity. Not sweet at all, pretty dry actually, which I feel contributes to the intensity of the bitterness. Seriously though, the IBU rating of this beer must be off the charts.
Now, you all know I am a big fan of bitterness, so I’m not complaining. But I don’t think the average light beer drinker could palate the hop profile of Kristina’s Challenge. That being said, I purposefully chose their hoppiest offering to start, so I expected (hoped for?) this outcome.
The carbonation is perfect in my opinion. When you hold a sip in your mouth, you can hear it bubbling through the roof of your mouth. This suggests to me that the lightness of the head is likely due to protein content, not a carbonation factor.
The rice malts add a unique quality to the taste. The only adjective I can think of that seems to fit is crisp and clean. I’m not sure if it’s all coming from the malt…perhaps the hops are contributing (I don’t actually now which hops this beer is brewed with). I will also say, that as the beer warms, the balance increases and the hops don’t slap you quite as hard.
For an all-rice beer, this ale has a lot of character. I’m really enjoying the bold qualities of this brew. I would probably put this beer in a west coast pale ale category. If it were aiming to be an IPA, I would wish for a little more malt body to accompany the powerhouse that are the hops.
Overall, I’m impressed to learn that rice malts can create such an interesting beer. I’m looking forward to tasting more from Eckert Malting & Brewing Company. I do like knowing that this beer was malted, brewed, and bottled all under the same roof. Talk about Celiac-safe and truly dedicated gluten free.