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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 33.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Beer Here: Holy Gray Ale from Gray's Tied House
A growler of Holy Gray Ale from Gray's Tied House stands ready.
Credit:Robin Shepard

Gray's Brewing Company of Janesville was founded in 1856 and it lays claim to being the nation's oldest beverage company continuously operated by the same family. Gray's Tied House opened in Verona about a year ago, marking the company's 150th year in business. Tied houses take their name from pre-Prohibition breweries that owned -- or were tied to -- saloons that only served company beers. Even though it's part of Gray's Brewing Company, Gray's Tied House has its own brewing facilities, and you'll find beer here that you won't find in bottles in your local liquor store.

What is it? Holy Gray Ale from Gray's Tied House

Style: India Pale Ale

Background: Gray's Tied House has been open since last November, but this is the first beer produced on site. The beer uses East Kent Goldings and Cascade hops for a firm 65 on the International Bittering Units scale (the common, minimum threshold for U.S. IPAs is 40 IBU).

Owner and brewamaster Fred Gray held a contest to name his first beer at the Tied House, and Peter Franson of Verona came up with the winning suggestion. That earned him free beer for a month.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Light resinous nose.
  • Appearance: Hazy, deep-copper-to-bronze color, and a thin, soft, tan head.
  • Texture: Fully bodied and bubbly. Some sharpness accentuated by the hoppiness.
  • Taste: A mild caramel malt beginning followed by a firm bitter background.
  • Finish/aftertaste: Bitter with a light roastedness.

Glassware: The basic shaker pint glass with a large opening will nicely suit the hop aroma.

Pairs well with: For highly hopped beers I prefer food flavors that compete with the bitterness. Otherwise, the hop resins tend to linger and overshadow the taste of delicate entrees. From the Tied House menu, try the Pizza Picante slathered in salsa verde, black beans, roasted chicken, and topped with pico and feta cheese. Bubba's Gumbo is another tasty option, but you might want to add a squirt of hot sauce, or the blackened cod could seem tame accompanied by the hops in this beer.

Rating: Three Bottle Openers.

(I am using a one to four bottle opener scale: four is a great beer, distinctive, you'll have this over others; three is a beer you enjoy, reliable, close to its described style; two is problematic, lacks distinction, but worth having again; one is a beer that isn't true to its style, you would not recommend it to a friend.)

The Consensus: Gray's Holy Ale has not been rated on Beer Advocate nor Rate Beer.

The Verdict: This beer has solid hoppiness and even some dryness, but the roasted ending distracts from the bitter tones. Even still, a beer that hop lovers will enjoy.

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