Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sour Notes and Something Beautiful


I'm all for making unusual styles but are we starting to run out of styles. Some styles of brews are obscure for a reason. Maybe that they really have an acquired taste. Sour Ales have to fall into this category. I came across brew from Rivertown Brewery called "Divergent" which is a Berliner Style sour ale. . I'll admit I don't have a lot of experience with these type beers but I'm usually pretty open about trying stuff. 

I knew this would be sour to begin with. I don't think I was quite prepared for this level of sour. The best way I can describe both the smell and taste is that of the stuff the school janitor would sprinkle on the lunch of some kid would just upchucked. Like a sour cheese that would almost make you lose your lunch too. 

I realize that everyone's taste is different and someone out there in the craft beer world loves this stuff. One has to admit though this would be at best a niche item that select consumers would like. Someone, not me, probably would be a better judge as to this is a good beer in it's style category. Do I think it'll make it big time, no. 



After this I had to cleanse my taste buds by going out to local Irish Pub(Flynn's Irish Pub, Mansfield, Massachusetts) and have some of there awesome fish and chips. Accompanying my seafood and fries was Maine Beers "a tiny something beautiful" which is a wonderful American Pale Ale which is one of my favorites. I've only been able to find this on tap locally here. Luckily my Taphunter went off earlier saying they had it. Our server wasn't even aware they had it. It was a good night after that.



Monday, December 28, 2015

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher

Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest DrinkTasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great must read for any beer enthusiast. You'll learn many aspects of craft beer like styles,ingredients, history, recipes and so on. It has an easy to read style and the author is passionate about the subject but does it without being an arrogant beer snob.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I hated beer the first time

I hated the first time I tried a beer. In all fairness I was probably around 8 years old and in the mid 1970's. This was time of Led Zeppelin and the dark ages of American brewing. Most of what was left was the huge conglomerate beers that had fizzled and watered down to a pale yellow fizzy drink. Of course as an elementary school aged kid I was oblivious to what status of the beer world was. I remember beer being a clear pale yellow with some slim white fizzy head. It was probably a Michelob or Schlitz as I remember those being the ones my uncles and their friends drinking a lot. I think it was one of my uncles who offered it to me(can't be sure though). I remember it having an odd smell and taste. Did not like it one bit. I think the grown ups that were around got a chuckle out of the yucky face I made. It did leave a lasting impression though. It was a long time before I had another one.

Even through my teenage years I never developed a strong interest in beer. I think I had remembered my sip so I wasn't that interested. I did have it a couple of times but it never stuck well. The few times I did drink to excess it was with liquor. A high school football game and peppermint schnapps(which I still can't stand the smell of to this day but that's another story) my senior year being my first not-so-memorable moment.

The funniest story from my teen years involving beer was in the case when we didn't even get to drink it. A friend of mine had an older sister who was cool enough to buy for us. A group of us pooled our money and went off to get it. The catch was that we had to use canoes to get there. We lived near the ocean with a river running through marshes. We used two canoes as I believe there were 4 or 5 of us. We paddled down a certain point. My friends sister went and got a six pack of Michelob which had a cone like bottle at the time with a gold label wrapping the top. We soon headed back. I'm not sure what triggered but just as we passed a wooden bridge both canoes tipped over. everyone and contents. I was not the greatest swimmer so I stuck near the boats. Fortunately we all made  it to shore. The our ill gotten beer did not though. Sadly attempts to salvage them were unsuccessful.

The time I went into the Army did help with my beer awareness a little bit but I was still stuck to the hard stuff although I'd still have a beer or two. It grew a little more aware being stationed in heart of old beer country Germany(then West Germany). I was introduced to terms like Export, Bock Doppelbock and so on. I learned it came in different colors and strengths. After awhile drinking them you'd go back to a Budweiser and swear you're drinking water.

When I came back to civilian life I was of course disappointed by the selection which hadn't changed much. The few German beer available like Beck's or St. Pauli Girl were not even close to same. Samuel Adams was still relatively new but that was about it. I soon just fell into a rut of just purchasing normal beer like Coors(which was new to the region.) , Budweiser or something like that.

For the next couple of decades I was really just an occasional beer drinker. Perhaps buy six pack or have a beer on a social occasion but that was about it. The only beer that made an impression on me in that time was George Killian's Irish Red. I still love it to this day. That didn't really do anything spark any change.

Around the year 2009 I decided to quit smoking and soon after I regained my taste buds. This included beer. It first I started with usual brew like Miller High Life and my old favorite Killian's Irish Red. It didn't happen until I spotted some miscellaneous beers in shopping basket marked for clearance at a local liquor store. One of them happened to be one called Anchor Liberty Ale. I was intrigued by it's pregnant pear shaped bottle. It's eagle and anchor adorning looked patriotic and yet had a rustic look to it. It even had a quick story about the beer on the label.



I brought this Liberty Ale home along with a few others. Something about the moment I poured it in the glass grabbed my attention. Had a pale hazy yellow body with an inch thick snow colored pillow top head. Had a unique, to me at the time, pine and grapefruit aroma. The taste had a mild citrus bitterness. It finished crisp and dry. It seemed like something clicked inside me.I didn't know beer could taste so incredible and different from mainstream football commercial beers.  It was from that point I was hooked on craft beer.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Zen and Art of Pouring a Beer



Pouring a beer is one of my favorite subjects. Nothing is more mouth watering than the sight of cold brew properly poured and awaiting consumption. Knowing some brewer put his heart and sweat into making this just for you. It's his personal gift to you one glass at a time. He certainly hopes you like it because if not he's out of a job. It's not just out necessity of feeding family though, it's also his dream create something wonderful. 

The way it's poured influences the way it's tastes, smell's and looks upon presentation. Let's face it, one of the most wonderful things about beer is the way it looks presented to you in the glass. First impressions matter. Of course there is the classic image of a golden colored beer with the snow white head in a glass sweating from condensation. 

Beer writers, geeks, pundits and so on do debate about this. So here in this throw my two cents into the debate. I recently came upon this subject in the book, "Tasting Beer" by Randy Mosher, which sparked my interest in this subject. I hadn't paid attention to this subject for quite awhile. In Randy's book he recommends a vigorous straight down the middle of the glass. Taking your time and letting the foam settle. This way it releases more of the carbonation trapped in the brew making it less gassy.

The late Michael Jackson  recommends using more of tilted pour using more of side of the glass. He recommends a tiled glass at first and gradually bringing the glass to a straight up and down. Still coming up with a creamy long lasting head. It his book "Great Beer Guide" he show a few different methods for different styles , although from the pictures it looks all very similar. Some styles foam up quicker like a Hefeweizen verses a barleywine.

As an experiment I'll try the different type of pours on the same beer. All in the name of science of course. First will be a poured totally down the side of the glass. Second will start near the bottom near with the glass at a steep angle then gradually bringing straight. This will be the Jackson method(or close to it)Thirdly will the Mosher method which is straight down the middle. Here we go!


1. The down the side method

Pouring down the side of the glass is described as "for sissies" by beer writer Randy Mosher. The after the pour the beer has about a pinky finger thick head. It fades quick to a thin coating. The IPA looks and feels well carbonated. The brew is bitter and bubbly. When finished it it leaves little lacing at all on the glass..


2. The Jackson Method.

This way I started with the glass at slight 20 degree angle and pour down the side a little and quickly brought it vertical. At first glance the head was slightly bigger at about a full finger but still faded relatively quick. It did seem a little less carbonated while drinking. Didn't notice a lot differetn about taste. Bitterness was about the same. Bubbles weren't as active inside the beer.



3.The Mosher Method. 

This is plain and simple. Pour straight down the middle and don't worry about being gentle. First you'll notice that it foams up quickly. It may take a few minutes to pour a full beer. Another thing is that the the brew is visibly less carbonated as less bubbles are noticed. The head is enormous and pillowy. When your consuming it's less fizzy feeling than you the other pours. It goes down smoother perhaps even less bitter. I didn't notice very much change in the taste or aroma.



Summary

I think many like myself grew up on the idea of fizzy cold beer. In the dark days before the craft beer revolution that's pretty much all their was. If you're happy with cold and fizzy then by all mean keep on with the first method. In the second pour a little less carbonation and more head(insert sexual innuendo here) this maybe the way to go. If you'd like a smoother less gassy experience then the third way is way to go. Doing this experiment has been an eye opener as far as what to expect in those tiny bubbles.

I think the edge goes to the Randy Mosher method. It's a smoother and perhaps more mature way of consuming brew. I didn't notice much of any difference in taste or aroma. The head was creamier and gave a nice appearnce upon presentation. Of course personal taste always prevails. I'd encourage others to experiment, which is always fun with beer.

Cheers!

Sources:

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher

Great Beer Guide by Michael Jackson

Special thanks to Shiner Wicked Ram IPA


  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Beer of the day: Yuengling IPL



I thought this was an interesting new offering by America's oldest brewery, Yuengling. I had so much confidence in this I tried it out as a six-pack. I usually don't like buy a six of something I haven't had before because if I don't like it I'm stuck with 5 more beers I don't like. I've had good luck with Yuengling before so I did take a chance. At first I thought I'd made a mistake as I wasn't that impressed by it. It had an onion like taste which reminded me of a  Ballast Point Grunion which I didn't like too much either. 

So one night I decided to just finish off the rest , 3 at this point. As each one passed, at different occasions, my opinion softened. I've either grown used to the taste or after a buzz of a couple of them it didn't matter anymore. It does have that typical bitterness of the style it does finish smooth. 

It's still not my favorite Yuengling but it's not bad. It's worth a try.

I give it a 3 out of 5 stars.