The only thing I like better than a good beer is a good local beer. San Antonio has several great breweries, from long-established brewpubs like Freetail and Blue Star, to breweries like Branchline, Busted Sandal and Ranger Creek. I hope to write these—and many more—in this new column for SA Flavor. But to get started, I grabbed a four-pack of the Ranger Creek Strawberry Milk Stout.
Don’t let the strawberry part fool you: this is a stout ale. It’s not dark, it’s opaque. The beer is basically black in color, but when you hold your glass up to the light, you can see that it arrives at black by way of red. The head carries a slightly red tint, and the edge of the beer along the glass betrays the strawberry ingredients.
The strawberries, sourced from Oak Hill Farms in Poteet, TX, are most evident in the aroma of the beer. I found that there was just a hint of berry flavor, though as the beer warmed, I got more depth of flavor from the strawberries. On the second taste, I pulled the bottle from the fridge half an hour before opening it. This proved to be just enough time to bring the temperature up, releasing significantly more flavor. In addition to the strawberry flavor, I found most of the other flavors I normally associate with a stout: vanilla, roasted malt and—given that it’s a milk stout—a cream flavor.
The lactose sugars added in the brewing process place the beer in the milk stout category. This gives it a rich, creamy, smooth consistency. The beer feels slightly thicker as you drink it, but is by no means the thickest beer I’ve had. The texture of the beer is perfectly matched to the taste: rich.
While Ranger Creek describes their beer as “a stout for spring time,” I think I can find a time to drink it year round. However, this is not a beer to slam after mowing the lawn. This is not a beer to drink with dinner. This is a perfect beer for sipping with dessert—preferably something with chocolate in it.
All told, I’m now a fan of the Ranger Creek Strawberry Milk Stout. It’s unique. It’s local. It’s great for dessert. I highly recommend pulling the beer from the fridge up to half an hour before you’re ready to drink it, enabling the beer to become much more fragrant and interesting as it warms.