When you’re a geek like me and you spy a beer that has a picture of Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer, in dog form, than you buy it on general principle. When you notice that it was brewed in part by Seventh Son Brewing Company, you buy two. This was the exact position I found myself in recently while shopping for something new to try. I rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. Nope. It was definitely a beer called Keymaster with the devil dog from Ghostbusters peering back at me from the shelf. And there was the Seventh Son logo. Yoink. Yoink. Two bottles in my basket.
However, Seventh Son was not the only brewer to work on this beer. It was brewed in partnership with Homestead Beer Company, who released a sister beer called, oh yes, Gatekeeper. I couldn’t locate any Signourney Weaver themed beers in the shop, so I’ll have to track that one down another day. I digress.
Keymaster is billed as a farmhouse SMaSH ale with 7.22% ABV. For those who aren’t into brewing, SMaSH stands for “Single Malt and Single Hop”. That means the beer was made using a single type of malt and a single breed of hop. SMaSH beers act as a fun exercise for a brewer to get to know the profile of particular malt and hop. In the case of Keymaster, Seventh Son and Homestead used “mild malt and Willamette hops”. I’m not sure what “mild” malt refers to, but I am familiar with Willamette hops. They are versatile little buds. I grow some myself.
For this tasting and not quite knowing what to expect, I poured the beer into a regular pint glass. The nose was pure farmhouse: peppery, mild cloves, and no discernible hop aroma. A full, foamy head the color of fresh straw bloomed over the beer. The ale itself was on the darker side of pale, yet not quite amber.
Enticed, I took a drink. A mild caramel flavor filled the front of the taste, followed by a dash of pepper along with a smidgen of hop bitterness in the very back end. I found the beer to be very refreshing. Despite the higher than typical ABV, there was no hint of alcohol in the beer’s flavor. As for the Belgian elements, the farmhouse flavors were there, but they were not overpowering.
The mouthfeel of the beer was also pleasant. The carbonation tickled the back of my tongue. And I found the body to be somewhere between a British style pale ale and a saison. That’s not a bad thing, considering the style. After all, the body didn’t need to compensate for a hop bomb.
When I finished the beer, I was felt glad that I had purchased a second bottle. Keymaster hit just the spot for easy drinking in summer weather yet indulging in a bit of adventure. My advice to you is this. Keymaster? Yes, have some.