The new Durham, NC nanobrewery embraces the absurd for a dead serious, well-rounded beer
When choosing a mascot that's a dinosaur with the lower body of a pony, you're setting the bar high for crafting a beer that will be just as memorable in taste. Started last year by Keil Jansen (who quit his job as a special education teacher to take his home-brewing hobby to the next level), Ponysaurus Brewery indeed lives up to the challenge. Jansen is joined by David Baldwin (of Raleigh-based Baldwin&), who created the intriguing design for the bottles, and Nick Johnson, who heads up The Cookery—a unique commercial space for food entrepreneurs in Durham, where Ponysaurus brews out of its one-and-a-half-barrel system.
"There is a certain tension within the entire Ponysaurus design, where we are trying to balance a sense of the absurd and fantastical with the fact that we are dead serious about making the best beer," Jansen tells CH. "The combination of 'old-timey' details, for example the style of the Ponysaurus drawing that invokes old medical or biology textbooks with the fact that the drawing itself is of a half-pony, half-dinosaur is an excellent shorthand for what we wanted to achieve."
Because Ponysaurus is a nanobrewery, Jansen can get creative without too much of a financial risk, and can pay close attention to the quality of each batch. The downside is for customers; the small batches that are produced can sell out within the course of just a few days. We waited quite a while to get our hands on some bottles, but it was worth it. Their most recent offering, Bière de Garde Ale (or "beer for keeping"), is an homage to the traditional French farmhouse ales that were higher in alcohol content; they kept longer in the barrel than their low-alcohol counterparts. Thus, Bière de Garde was brought out for special occasions. Evoking the farm by using three types of barley, wheat, rye and oats, this well-rounded ale isn't a fair-weather friend. With a strong finish, the flavor remains; the wheat flavor is bold but not overbearing. It makes for a perfect summer ale, especially with flourishing notes of apple, pear, almond and vanilla.
To view a full list of their offerings as well as their stockists (currently only in Raleigh and Durham), visit the Ponysaurus Beer website.
Photos by Nara Shin