Martin House's Turtle Power Is A Hero And A Half.
Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it's local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!
This week, we sipped on Martin House's Turtle Power.
Fast Facts on Martin House's Turtle Power.
ABV: 7 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 40.
Availability: Limited, in kegs.
Martin House is a regular brewery featured in our On Tap series — and, hey, we're OK with giving some love to Fort Worth. The brewery is a scrappy sort of place, and I can appreciate that. The last time I visited this brewery, they had a hot liquor tank sporting a Pac-Man paint job. Weird!
Also cool: Did you know that this beer is a charity-type of a beer? Awesome! We fully support that move. Well played, Martin House. Well played. Here's some text, directly lifted from Martin House's website: “This philanthropic seasonal was inspired by a Turtle's favorite treat — blackberries. It turns out that brewers love blackberries as much as their reptilian cohorts. The strong malt and hop body of this altbier mixes well with the flavor of the blackberries for an excellent fall time treat. We're brewing this beer to bring awareness to the plight of land based turtles and tortoises and the wonderful organization that leads this good fight — the Turtle Survival Alliance. Martin House will be making a donation to these fine folks, and we hope to recruit you, our faithful beer drinking customers, to become involved as well.”
Background on Altbiers.
Altbier is a malty, bitter German style that originated in Düsseldorf. The word alt refers to the old styles of beer brewed in Germany, so this beer pays homage to its history right there in its name. Easy to remember, right? Alts are normally on the lower-end of the alcohol range, a popular and almost session-strength popular rotator at many a German watering hole.
Turtle Power is a nice copper color. It looks clear if you look through just a small section of beer. However, it's mostly cloudy at full-pour size. So, no, this isn't clear in the way alts are normally known for. But Turtle Power has a fruit addition to it, and lots of times when you add fruit to a beer, all bets are off on the clarity game.
A first whiff of Turtle Power brings round, tart dark berries to the nose. No, not like lighter berries, either. Instead, this aroma hits you like a truck full of Smucker's rich jams and jellies. About that tart note: What's to come? Is the beer's malt going to balance out that tartness, that bitterness? Let's hope so.
I want this alt to be a nice balance of malt and hop bitterness mixed with fruit. But, honestly, this beer is more fruit for me. But I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing. So let's unpack this flavor situation a little bit. The blackberries in this beer are present at first sip all the way to the last, when the carbonation fades and the beer warms. There's a something grainy, sort of seed-like or skin-like going on. Maybe it's a slight astringency, like under-ripe fruit. This can happen for a whole ton of reasons, but let's not get too hung up on this flavor since it probably comes from the blackberries. Full stop. Let's back away from the blackberries for a minute and talk about the malt and bittering hops. This beer, to me, has a healthy dose of early-boil kettle hops. But I don't get a ton of finishing or floral hop flavor; it's more of a bitter flavor. The malt provides a nice landing space for the other things going on in this beer. But, honestly, I'm so distracted by the tartness of the blackberries that I can't locate any dominant malt base.
Turtle Power has a nice carbonation profile. Alts are known to be medium-carbonated, and this beer is spot on. The fruit addition adds a small puckering bite that plays second fiddle to the bubbles. As the aftertaste fades, my mouth feels slightly fruity and acidic, but not in a heartburn sort of way. It's quite refreshing.
This is a fun beer. And I don't mean that like how advertisers tell you that driving a small shitty car is “fun.” I mean this is actual, honest, American-spin-on-a-German-style fun. I appreciate variation on a theme, too. And while this fruit addition most likely kicks this altbier out of the official altbier category, my loose understanding of the gestalt of alt tells me to keep put. They'll be tapping a keg of it this Saturday at On Rotation, if you're also looking to have a little fun this weekend.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give Martin House's Turtle Power a 7.
What's happening in the area brew scene?
• Saturday, October 17. Microfest at Old Jail Park in Royse City.
• Saturday, October 24. Audacity One-Year Anniversary at Harvest House.
• Saturday, October 31. Texas Bicycle & Beer Expo at Dallas Heritage Village.
• Friday, November 6-15. North Texas Beer Week.
• Saturday, November 7. Operation Bravo Homebrew Competition at Shannon Brewing Co.
• Saturday, November 7. Untapped Dallas at Fair Park.
• Friday, November 13. 2nd Annual Brewer's Ball at Renaissance Dallas Hotel.
Previous On Tap Reviews:
• Peticolas' Royal Scandal: 10.
• Community's Mosaic IPA: 10.
• Peticolas' Velvet Hammer: 10.
• Community's Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
• Community's Legion: 10.
• Lakewood's Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
• Peticolas' Lost Epic: 9.5.
• Community's Ascension Porter: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Temptress: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Goatman: 9.5.
• Community's Public Ale: 9.5.
• Peticolas' Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• Revolver's Blood & Honey: 9.
• Martin House's Imperial Texan: 9.
• Community's Trinity Tripel: 9.
• Peticolas' Irish Goodbye: 9.
• Four Corners' Block Party Porter: 9.
• Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Deep Ellum's Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
• Deep Ellum's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Rock Ryder: 8.5.
• Rahr's Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Bitter Sisters' Belgian Tripel: 8.
• Noble Rey's SteamPunk: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Citra On Top: 8.
• Bitter Sisters' Hissy Fit: 8.
• BrainDead's Gritz: 8.
• Community's Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
• Cedar Creek's Fisticuffs: 8.
• Lakewood's Punkel: 8.
• Four Corners' El Chingon IPA: 8.
• Martin House's Day Break: 8.
• Deep Ellum's GOURDzilla: 8.
• Peticolas' The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
• Deep Ellum's Pale Ale: 8.
• Revolver's Bock: 8.
• 903 Brewers' Sasquatch: 8.
• Peticolas' Wintervention: 8.
• Armadillo Ale Works' Brunch Money: 8.
• Martin House's Salsa Verde: 8.
• Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
• Lakewood's Holiday Bonus: 8.
• Lakewood's Hop Trapp: 8.
• Four Corners' El Super Bee: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Hopochondria: 7.5.
• Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
• Martin House's Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Antigoon's Revenge: 7.5.
• Community's Texas Pils: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Zomer Pils: 7.5.
• Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus: 7.5.
• Collective's Petite Golden Sour: 7.
• Shannon's Chocolate Stout: 7.
• BrainDead's Red Ale: 7.
• Community's Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
• Martin House's Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
• Bearded Eel's Purple Unicorn: 7.
• Shannon Brewing Company's Irish Red: 7.
• Texas Ale Project's Somethin' Shady: 7.
• Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
• Cedar Creek's The Lawn Ranger: 7.
• Martin House Brewing Company's Cellarman's Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
• Lakewood's Till & Toil: 7.
• 903 Brewers' The Chosen One: 7.
• 903 Brewers' Sugar On Top: 7.
• Martin House's Gateway XPA: 7.
• Armadillo Ale Work's Quakertown Stout: 7.
• Revolver's High Brass: 7.
• Community's Pale Ale: 7.
• Martin House's River House: 7.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's Brown Ale: 7.
• Community's Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
• Audacity's Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
• Collective Brewing Project's Mom Azacca: 6.5.
• Revolver's Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
• 903 Brewers' Trot Line: 6.5.
• Peticolas' Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Nightwatch: 6.5.
• Peticolas' The Duke: 6.5.
• Deep Ellum's Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Tupps' Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
• Rabbit Hole's Tweedleyum: 6.
• Rabbit Hole's Off With Your Red: 6.
• Cedar Creek's Elliott's Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Lakefire: 6
• Armadillo Ale Works' WunderMelon: 6
• Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
• Lakewood's La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
• Deep Ellum's Numb Comfort: 5.
• Four Bullets' Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
• Four Corners Heart O' Texas: 4.
• Audacity's Sunset Boulevard: 4.
• Shannon Brewing Company's IPA: 4.
• Grapevine's Monarch: 4.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• Miller Lite: 1.