Well I tried for a truly magical beer experience in the latest Boffo Beer Blog. I sampled True Vine’s Mermaids & Unicorns beer, to go along with a bowl of beef stew and a cheese bagel. Expectations were high, especially when confronted with the mirth-filled 12-ounce can, brightly colored and bedecked with a picture of, yes, a mermaid riding a unicorn. This should be some special drink!
Unlike some of the small breweries I’ve looked at so far, True Vine is really new and still quite small. Based out of Tyler, Texas ( a smallish city not too far out of Dallas), it’s barely five years old. Inspired by reading a biography of the Guinness family, a married couple, Ryan and Traci Dixon began brewing some beer in their own garage around 2014. With good feedback from the locals, opened a tiny, 2000 square-foot brewery in town in 2014. Mermaids & Unicorns was one of their first two flavors and remains a mainstay of their small company, which now boasts about ten or so brews, all with lively, whimsical can designs. There’s a coffee porter, a peach-infused one and one that wins for the name alone, Chubby Angel Babies. True Vines say they are guided by the principles of integrity, community and love.” Hard to find fault with that.
They’re now available throughout a good number of locations in Texas, but haven’t matched the success or growth of some of their Lone Star counterparts – yet. But, like some of their bigger competitors, they recently opened a taproom and restaurant on site, with artisan pizzas being a menu star and live music on the weekend an added draw. What they don’t have yet is as detailed or complete website as many microbrews.
Anyway, I popped open the can full of expectation, and poured the brew into a frosty glass. Although the brewer itself doesn’t seem to detail their drink online, Specs says it comes in at 5.5% alcohol and features a “malty, bready (flavor) with hints of peach and orange.” Upon pouring, it looked a pleasant enough golden tone, slightly cloudy, but seemed to have little fizz and produced only a minimal, thin head. Waiting to be ridden away to beverage utopia on a unicorn being hugged by Splash-era Daryl Hannah, I expected something wildly different and wonderful.
The unicorn turned out to be more of a run of the mill donkey and Daryl nowhere to be seen or felt. The first impression of it was that it had a relatively mild flavor with a noticeable bitterness. More sips did reveal a tinge of citrus, but a very subtle one. It was fairly “smooth” to use that million-dollar beer buzzword, but nothing out of the ordinary in any way. It paired fine with the stew, but didn’t noticeably bring out the flavors of the food or drink; with the cheese bagel somehow the drink’s bitterness seemed a little amplified.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression this is a bad beer. It’s not. It’s perfectly acceptible and a unicorn’s horn above some of the mass market convenience store competition. The can is a keeper for collectors and the drink worth buying it for. What it is not however, was particularly memorable or distinctive, let alone magical. I’ll grade it about 7 out of 10 for strength, 6 for flavor and all in all….
three unicorns out of five.