In this week’s beer review, we’re comparing two versions of one beer.

Beer: Premium (Post-Prohibition Style Ale)
Brewery: Stillwater Artisanal, Baltimore, MD (kind of)
ABV: 4.5%

Beer: Premium (Omnipollo Remix)
Brewery: Omnipollo, Stockholm, Sweden (kind of)
ABV: 7.0%

Tasting Notes: Clearly, these two beers are similar in many ways, but they still have a few glaring differences. First, the similarities: both the original and the remix are blonde ales, both in style and in color, a gorgeous straw-gold hue with luscious foamy head. As an ale made with traditional lager ingredients, Premium is a bit of a contradiction. It’s no wonder the end result is something that tastes both familiar and new. There’s a definite funkiness from the brett (er, brettanomyces) that’s been added, as well as a strong hint of citrus. With the Remix, the citrus is amped up considerably with the addition of amarillo hops. Those amarillo hops give a strong grapefruit flavor and aroma, making the Remix more bitter and tart than the original.

Food Pairings: Dude, everything. Clocking in at 4.5% alcohol, the original Premium would make a great lunch beer. It’s full of flavor and complexity without being full of alcohol. It would easily complement a sandwich or burger, something fried, or a salad. The Omnipollo Remix may be a little less versatile with its tartness, but it should work equally well with most everything you want to put in your mouth. Think variety with both beers: pairing them with a diverse charcuterie plate or cheese plate would be perfect because they’ll add different elements to each pairing.

About the Breweries: Stillwater Artisanal is part of an interesting sect of the brewing world: gypsy brewers. Gypsy brewers don’t own their own brewery, but instead finds spaces in already existing breweries to get their beers made. Stillwater has a headquarters in Baltimore, MD, where they also have a restaurant called Of Love and Regret where you can buy some of their beer on draught and some of their bottles. They craft interesting and complex beers, fusing old-world styles and modern techniques with a somewhat gothic design theme running throughout their labels. Omnipollo is Stillwater’s Swedish doppelganger; they are also a gypsy brewery and lean heavily on distinct and beautifully haunting graphic design elements in their marketing.

In the gypsy spirit, Stillwater has also asked a handful of brewer friends that they admire to remix their beers. Not only is that a cool idea, but it’s a new spin on the collaborative spirit that flows through the brewing industry. I’ve tried a few other remixes (Big Tasty’s Backdoor, a remix of Cellar Door, is another standout) and have enjoyed all of them. Hopefully this trend will catch on and other breweries will do the same. Discussing his thoughts on the bottle, Henok, the remix-master from Omnipollo, says: “The aim is to bring you on an exhibition to the jungle.” So put on “Appetite for Destruction” and get drinking.