Last month, I made mention of one of Georgia’s newest breweries, Wild Heaven Craft Beers. The brewery, which currently has its beers contract-brewed at Spartanburg, SC’s Thomas Creek Brewery, has two beers in its line-up: Invocation, an 8.5% ABV Belgian-style Golden Ale, and Ode to Mercy, an Imperial Brown Ale that weighs in at 8.2% ABV.
Like many breweries, Wild Heaven first offered its beer draft-only. Since Sundrees Urban Market began pouring growlers, Invocation has made its way onto the draft list several times, and so far Sundrees, which calls itself a “downtown bodega,” has been the only location in the CSRA to grab a fill of the delicious Belgian-style ale. Currently, the beer isn’t pouring (to keep track of what’s currently offered, follow their Facebook page), but its popularity could very well bring it back. The good news, though, is that Wild Heaven began offering both Invocation and Ode to Mercy in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles, and Sundrees happens to carry Ode to Mercy in its cooler selection.
Ode to Mercy, which is brewed using coffee specially blended by Athens, GA’s 1000 Faces Coffee, is available for $9.99/four-pack, and after reading the review below, you’ll likely agree that it’s worth every penny. Keep an eye out for Ode to Mercy to be pouring at the growler station sometime in the near future as well, because a beer this good is best consumed fresh from the tap. Wild Heaven suggests pairing the beer with Barbecued chicken, Kielbasa, prime rib, cheesecake, English Cheddar Cheese, pate, and Munster cheese, and I couldn’t agree more.
Style: American Imperial Brown Ale
Alcohol content: 8.2% ABV
Package type: 12-ounce brown glass bottle
Serving vessel: Tulip glass
Serving temperature: ~50 degrees F
Rating: A (4.28/5)
Pours a wonderfully clear mahogany hue with a massive, everlasting head of khaki froth that recedes ever so slowly; tremendously fat rings of foam nestle themselves onto the walls of the glass and settle in for the duration. Constant upward flurries of bubbles stream to feed the massive head, which seems to find any space less than a half-finger inappropriately small.
Fresh-ground, lightly-roasted coffee beans hit the nostrils right up front, mingling with sweet notes of burnt sugar and a hint of toffee, along with whiffs of dried dates and what can only be described as the aroma of mid-autumn.
Sweet caramel-topped flan lands on the tastebuds up front, moving into a bit of burnt sugar, nutmeg and citrus rind. Mid-palate, things become especially complex and difficult to pin down, though coffee and a distinct woodiness show through, and things once again become reminiscent of autumn; if the season could have a distinct flavor, it would be this, despite the overwhelming opinion that autumnal beers should be brewed with squash and flavored with pie spices (admitedly something I’m not averse to, but the season just doesn’t manifest itself quite so well in those beers as it does here). Hops don’t play much of a role here flavorwise, and rightly so; they combine with the bit of coffee roastiness and earthy woodiness to dry out the palate and lead things to a mostly dry finish that absolutely begs for another quaff, and despite the 8.2% alcohol content, combined with the dry finish and the relatively light body, another sip (or gulp) seems not only necessary, but right.
To be perfectly honest, this is flat-out one helluva beer. Year-round, it is spectacular, but for those who yearn each year for the Fall season, this one for some reason just speaks to those longings. The sensation is almost indescribable, and therefore I’ll have to end it with that.