Capturing new flavors in craft beer seems nearly impossible in the age of mushroom brews, chocolate chip ice cream stouts and king cake ales. But last year, the Fort Worth, Texas beermakers at the Collective Brewing Project managed to turn heads, when the team dreamt up, created and released its first “noodle beer.”
The aptly named Cup O’ Beer is a gose in practice, though the beer relies on using noodles as a source of fermentable sugars and starches. Collective Brewing initially headed to a local Walmart, picked up 55 pounds worth, tossed the tiny flavor packets aside and instead combined those pivotal noodles with lemongrass, ginger and lime. The beer started off as a one-off creative challenge, but Cup O’ Beer has demonstrated staying power. These days you can snag a bottle at grocery stores throughout Texas.
Appearance and Aroma
The Cup O’ Beer label will lovingly (or horrifyingly) conjure up old Cup O’ Noodles experiences. The beer has a little sediment on the bottom, so obviously don’t shake—merely refrigerate everything for 24 hours before opening. Cup O’ Beer hits a pint glass cloudy but extremely light (nearly white even). In a certain way, it looks like the bottom half of a pre-mixed Arnold Palmer, where lemonade sits separated underneath the tea but appears to get gradually lighters towards the bottom of the glass. The beer makes a starker introduction through scent, though. It has very present citrus notes from the lime and lemongrass, but the beer genuinely smells like some subtle pork ramen broth sits inside.
Simply put, this doesn’t drink like a gimmick.”
Expectation comes heavily into play when tasting Cup O’ Beer for the first time. Booze scientists have surmised things like appearance can cause drinkers to experience different tastes from the exact same beverage. So, if looking to find some ramen qualities, Collective Brewing has definitely layered them within this gose. The smokiness of good ramen comes across subtly, as does a slight umami sensation that stays with the palette a bit after finishing each sip.
For what it’s worth, the Collective Brewing Project’s Dave Riddle told October mimicking ramen flavor wasn’t the goal so much as creating a beer that’d pair well with everyone’s favorite noodle dish. If coming to Cup O’ Beer as a noodle beer skeptic, it might be easy to dismiss the beer as just another lime-forward light beer. But even when considered as a straightforward gose, Cup O’ Beer nails the sour to citrus to malt ratio. Simply put, this doesn’t drink like a gimmick.
The Collective Brewing Project puts a lot of work into a batch of Cup O’ Beer—individually opening ramen packets gets annoying when making two or three bowls, think about brewing vats of beer—but this effort’s worth it. Even if the idea seems like it came from dorm room, the result lets craft beer enthusiasts know innovation in imbibing remains alive and well.