Small ball in baseball is an offense strategy that focuses on scoring runs through high on base percentage and not relying on home runs or extra base hits. Instead the defense and pitching staff need to be highly effective and consistent. This might describe a baseball team that I am huge fan of. The Kansas City Royals have been known for phrases such as “Keep the line moving” and “That’s what speed do”. The reigning World Series Champion are not known for power but consistency. The bullpen is the best in the league and has helped change the game by eliminating innings a starter needs to pitch. These attributes of the team have become very endearing and even a call for perseverance in KC.
While I am not for sure that Crane was paying homage to the baseball style that got the Royals through 8 come from behind wins in the 2015, I know Crane makes amazing beer. Recently, I have had the pleasure of having the opportunity to assist Crane in their packaging process. Larger breweries have mechanical bottling lines filling and capping hundreds of bottles per minute. Currently Crane is hand holding every bottle from sanitation to filling to capping and boxing. I have proudly been a cog in their human bottling line a couple times now. A little bit ago they were bottling Small Ball Saison infused with Brettanomyces.
I was able to get my hands on a bottle and since I am nice guy I wanted to share. The generosity came at a price. I wanted the feedback from those I shared with as they drank the beer. Bottle shares are a lot of fun and very helpful to getting in person reviews of a beer.
I shared it with some fellow homebrewers from ZZ Hops, an amazing local homebrew club. Check out ZZ Hops here! I opened the bomber with the Crane origami and poured a beautifully carbonated beer. As we sat there I got a bunch of snippets from each of them on how they were perceiving the beer. Straight of the bat, we got the Brett funk. Not in the off putting horse blanket way, but the bright tropical fruitiness. If you pour the bottle vigorously, you get more pineapple and fruit than funk. The tart and peppery notes of the saison style are present and make themselves known. More in an introduction to the style than a hit in the face. I really enjoyed the peppery phenolics passing over my tongue and through my mouth. Small Ball says it is a dry hopped saison, however we weren’t getting a lot of that dry hopped effect unless the hops accentuated the Brett and pull those aromatics and citrus flavors more. We did get the coriander and herbals usually present in a saison as it opened up and breathed in our glasses. As I sipped the beer I got the Brettanomyces funk and that characteristic become more evident as I drank. Never to the point that it was overwhelming or off-putting but always very nice.
If you are looking for a beer to introduce your self or a friend to the funky arts of Brettanomyces, this would be an amazing beer to drink. If you are a master of Brett beers, this would be great for a parking lot cheers with friends before you head into the K, regardless the way the Royals are playing.
Keep an eye out for Small Ball Saison and the rest of the origami this brewery puts on its bottles. Crane is a brewery that has beers and beautiful bottles that I just want to collect them all and drink them all. You should too!