Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sussex Best Bitter

Here is a good article in Pellicle on Sussex Best Bitter.  The pictures alone are worth a click through, but the story on Sussex Best is top quality beer writing.  I know the thought of a 4% abv bitter does not get Americans searching their beer apps to find the nearest keg or cask.  This is unfortunate.  English ales were my gateway out of the industrial lagers of the 1980s,  I keep waiting for a bitter and ESB revival.  I find it fascinating, and did not know, that Sussex Best is a wild ale.  I wish I had known more about the "wild" side to this beer before I visited London twice earlier this decade, I could have popped into The Harp in Covent Garden for a pint.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

East Coast Beer

A trip to the East Coast for few weeks this summer provided a chance for me to try some interesting beers I can't find in California. 

Scorpius Morchella, a double IPA from Toppling Goliath Brewing Company, is a beer brewed to celebrate the brewery's annual morel mushroom hunt.  I am not sure if Topping Goliath brewed Scorpius Morchella with mushrooms, but it was an earthy IPA.  I found it boozy, too, hotter than its 7.8% abv.  When I had it I thought I tasted mushrooms, but maybe I took the name and its dark vegetal flavors too literal. 

Lord Hobo's 617 Title Town IPA (pictured) is a New England IPA, of course, but of course, in typical NE IPA fashion, it was fine but not memorable. I had it dining outside on a warm evening, which was nicer than the beer. I expected a beer as brash and pretentious as its name, but came away with an unfulfilled '80's Red Sox and Patriot vibe, close but never good enough.

Clown Shoes' Baked Goods is a delicious 5.5% abv American pale ale.  With a sharp citrus bitterness, Baked Goods' last drink was as good, if not better, than its first drink.  An excellent beer with an abv that does serve as a drinking governor.  I could see myself putting away several Baked Goods without thinking twice, or slipping into stupidity.

Allagash White is a national beer, but it is ubiquitous on North Eastern tap lists, and that is marvelous.  It is such a good beer, one of the craft beer classics.

I broke my East Coast beer focus once, at Madison Square Garden, where I had Sierra Nevada's Hazy Little Thing IPA, which has become craft beer's new classic.  It was served in a cup that required a lid, so I started to drink the beer with a straw.  Taking the lid off and on for each drink annoyed me and proved messy, so I just kept drinking with the straw.  I am not sure I ever drank a beer with a straw before, I don't plan to again, but this one time was worth it.

Bad Martha

I listen to a number of podcasts - not all of them beer podcasts - and I like when podcasts end with the hosts giving recommendations, which may or may not relate to the podcasts.  Slate's Culture Gabfest host, Stephan Metcalf, in what sometimes seems like a troll, gives hyper-local recommendations of restaurants, stores, and attractions near his Hudson Valley home, which most listeners will never get to experience*.  I feel Metcalfian with this about Bad Martha's Farmer's Brewery, a small brewery and tasting room on Martha's Vineyard, about as far away and as hard to get to from San Diego as any brewery in the United States.

I spent some time on Martha's Vineyard this summer and frequented Bad Martha's Farmer's Brewery.  Located in Edgartown, it is Martha's Vineyard's only craft brewery**.  The brewery and the outdoor extension of its tasting room abut a nursery, the boundaries blurred, resulting in scores of potted plants, trees, pergola climbing hop vines, and blooming flowers, all sharing space with chairs and tables and tasting room games.  It's a near perfect place to enjoy Bad Martha's fine beers.

Over several visits I sampled a number of Bad Martha's beers.  Being in New England, I had to try the Baby Beluga New England IPA (pictured below).  This beer weighed in at just over 5% abv, and its damp, fruity flavor and malty sweetness stood up to the Vineyard's humid summer evenings.  Like most NEIPAs, I found no overt flavors bursting out of Baby Beluga, but I certainly enjoyed it.  The pale ale, another 5% abv beer, had a sharper bitter grip than the NEIPA, but it sold out early in my stay.  I found Bad Martha's Cap Codder the most interesting beer.  It is a 4% abv blond ale brewed with fruit, which to me tasted of berries and lemon, along with floral notes.  It is a fine beer for sipping on a warm summer evening after a thunderstorm, while sitting among the plants in a nursery.  Most of Bad Martha's beers were less than 6% abv, with many below 5% abv, which played into the brewery's on vacation, family and friends clientele. 

Bad Martha is the kind of brewery you want to visit multiple times. The brewery-nursery idea is excellent, and the ambience of Bad Martha added to its beers.  I am not sure how this space works in January, but with some space heaters I think a quick beer in the garden would be fine, at least I'd be up for one, but I think I'd order Bad Martha's oyster stout instead of its fruity Cap Codder.

* Stephen Metcalf once recommended Suarez Family Brewing so he's not trolling.
**  There is another brewery on Martha's Vineyard, Offshore Ale, but I was told it contract brews its beers somewhere on mainland Massachusetts, making Bad Martha the only brewery brewing beer on Martha's Vineyard.