Friday, June 20, 2014

Can It

Here is an article from NPR's The Salt on the trend of craft brewers to can their beer.  I expect to see more canned beer in the future and suspect most brewers will have both cans and bottles.  One thing I didn't know was that cans now have a polymer coating to reduce the metal taste you used to get when drinking beer from a can. 

I like caned craft beer, especially sixteen ounce "Tall Boys."  The big cans - not the beer - remind me of my younger days.  My buddies and I would down two sixteen ounce cans of Coors Light apiece between the house we rented and the entrance to Jack Murphy / Qualcomm stadium, where we would then buy tickets to bleacher seats to watch the Padres.  I was too cheap and poor to pay stadium prices for beer and the pre-game thirty-two ounce pound was plenty.  But now that memory brings to mind Tony Gwynn and that makes me sad.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Super Seizoen Bretta

Brevity is best for the sublime Seizoen Bretta from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales.  No review can capture the magnificence of this saison brewed with brettanomyces yeast.*  You must experience it firsthand.  The saison poured an opaque orange.  It was desert dry, fruity, with a bit of booze.  The brett yeast brings in spice and a touch of wild funk.  Seizoen Bretta gets better as it warms and its flavors expand.  Brilliant.  It is my frontrunner for 2014's beer of the year. 

* Beers brewed with brettanomyces yeast are not for everyone.  Brett makes beers dry and complex, and it imparts a distinct funkiness to the taste that can turn off those not expecting it.  Unlike hops, brett yeast is not an acquired taste, you either like it immediately or hate it.

(I wasn't able to get a picture of my Seizoen Bretta so I borrowed this label picture from Logsdon's website.)

Ramblin' Rye

Ramblin' Rye is a collaboration beer between AleSmith Brewing Co. and Tampa's Cigar City Brewing.    Ramblin' Rye is a brown ale, but the bottle's back label goes into more detail calling the beer a "malty Roggenbeir."  Roggenbier.  That's a new one for me.  

According to a description from the German Beer Institute, a roggenbier is a medieval ale brewed with barley, wheat and rye malts.  The resulting beer is more robust and complex than your typical brown ale.  You will not confuse a roggenbier with a mild English brown ale.

Rambling Rye is big, roasted and poured dark brown.  It had a thin, cappuccino-colored foam that didn't stick around long and ran counter to the meaty beer underneath.  You immediately taste the rye. It always brings heft and spice to a beer, and Ramblin' Rye was no exception.  I also picked up chocolate and tobacco, in particular the tobacco wrapper of a fine, unlit cigar.  I'm not sure whether this was subliminal or coincidence since one of the brewers is called Cigar City.

Ultimately, I liked and enjoyed this 8% abv beer.   It's not a beer I'd reach to every day, but it was well crafted and interesting.  I'm glad, too, it was not a traditional brown ale that the brewers juiced up, but a complete different style of brown ale. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hat Tip To The Haberdasher

I've wondered before about how much of a beer you need to taste to take its full measure.   I've had good, bad and mediocre tasters and half pints that I've not documented here on the blog.  Judging beers just on a taster is a tricky affair.  A positive initial impression can provide a false front for a beer that fades or fatigues you over a full pint or bottle - which is certainly true for many big, one dimensional double IPAs and beers like The Bruery's Five Gold Rings, a Belgian golden ale with pineapple from a few Holidays ago.  Sometimes a negative initial taste can mask a gem - like this Fantome  - where stopping short would have prevented me from drinking a great beer.

I've had a taster and a full glass - on two separate occasions - of Societe Brewing's Haberdasher English IPA at Societe's tasting room.  I liked the initial taste two weeks ago and went back this past weekend for a full glass.  I need a caveat here, both trips to Societe were for growler fills of beer that weren't Haberdasher.  I have had enough Haberdadher to know it's a worthy beer.  It has the earthy, mineral taste of a fine English ale, a flavor I'm really starting to appreciate.  It is a dark IPA - at least compared to other Societe IPAs - due to its healthy dose of malt, and is probably Societe's maltiest IPA.  The full-bodied Haberdasher is only 5.2% abv (no way I'm calling it a session IPA) and drinks nearly as big as its popular IPA cousins Pupil and Apprentice, and bigger, in my opinion, than Dandy.  I'm not sure how regular Societe is going to brew this IPA, but I want more of it.

Descriptions Gone Wild

I just read the following description for a fine wine:
"Graphite, violets and pencil shavings linger on the close."
This blog has noted some over-the-top beer writing before, but the above is nonsense and part of a longer review of a $50 bottle of wine.  I can't imagine writing a similar sentence:  "I was impressed with the saison's initial complementary, yet nuanced, tastes of chome and hydrangea, which segued into Crayola crayon box, which lingered through the finish."  I'd be laughed off my own blog.

A literal read of the review shows how ridiculous it is.  What does graphite taste like?  All I can think of is a graphite golf club, but who has ever tasted a golf club on purpose?  And violet, what does violet taste like?  Purple? But what does purple taste like?  I've no clue.  I know what pencil shavings smell like, but their taste? Does the wine taste like pencil shavings smell?  I'm not dropping fifty bucks for anything that tastes like pencil shavings smell.

I know it's hard to think of new and unique ways to describe how similar beers and wines taste, but making up flavors turns a review irrelevant, and in the case above into a parody of bad food writing. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

What The ...?

Just saw a USA Today article on rye beers.  It described Green Flash's Road Warrior:
Green Flash Road Warrior (12 oz. and 22 oz. bottles and draft, For a bit more bitterness and a bit more booze, try this seasonal Imperial IPA from San Diego's Green Flash Brewing Co.
Road Warrior pours like a reddish ale with an upfront piney aroma. Delicate and clean, the ale drinks like a beer much below its 9% ABV.
Green Flash created the beer as a tribute to its road-tested sales team, and as an alternative to summer's lawnmower beers — as with the Grainstorm, rye adds to the refreshment factor.
This is not the Road Warrior I tried.  My Road Warrior was the opposite of "clean and delicate," and drank way above 9% abv.  At least we agreed on its piney aspect.  But another reviewer (Brandon Hernandez) was struck by Road Warrior's "grapefruit, mango and passion fruit," but he appreciated Road Warrior's huge profile.   I'll stick by my review, but the differing beer perceptions are interesting.