Monday, September 14, 2009

June 10, 2009: Harnas

Tonight's beer Harnas is another to come out of the land of Kielbasa. I've always felt that Polish beers got a bit of a bad rap because they don't have the same pedigree as their German neighbors to the west. Some Polish beers that such as Okocim have done a lot to refute these notions, but tonight's beer Harnas only reinforces them. Simply stated, there's not much to separate Harnas from the rest of the European style lagers which for the most part are more well renowned and cheaper to get here in the states. I was drawn to Harnas at first because it is a Polish beer that sports a man wearing full native American regalia on the label, but the beer itself proved to be far less intesting. There's nothing terribly wrong with this beer. It pours a light golden straw color which is typical of most pilsners, has a thin off white head and a pretty forgettable palate of wheat, corn and fruit. Don't waste your time on Harnas; you'll only wish you's done the sensible thing and reached for a Heineken or a Stella Artois.

Na zdrowie!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

June 9, 2009: Hofbrau

As a self confessed lover of most things alcoholic, I often find myself feel envious of citizens of nations with a more relaxed attitude toward drinking. Sometimes I think it would be great to live in a place where you could find four generations of the same family getting shit faced drunk together at the local bar. Hell, some countries even have breweries that are owned and operated by the state. Hofbrau, for example, is a hefeweizen that is owned and brewed by the state government. That's how I'd like to see my tax dollars being spent! Hofbrau is a great example of you're typical Hefeweizen; cloudy golden color, creamy white head, strong and rich wheat flavor and a full body that makes it feel like a full square meal in a glass. For a beer that is brewed by the government rather than by the careful hand of a meticulous brewmaster, Hofbrau isn't half bad. The only real blight that plagues Hofbrau is the brewery's history as a sort of headquarters for the thinktank behind Adolph Hitler's Nazi regime. However, as this brewery is owned by the German government and the Nazi's were the party in power at the time, one can hardly blame Hofbrau for wetting the third reich's whistles. Still, it is a bit unsettling to think that Adolph Hitler, one of the most dispicable human beings to ever set foot on this earth, was known to enjoy the very same beer that you hold in your hand today.


Monday, September 7, 2009

June 7, 2009: Steigl Lemon Beer

Have you ever had one of those morning where you wake up and feel like you've just been run over by a semi-truck, dragged naked through a fetid pile of cow manure and had bit of sand and finely crushed glass run into your eyes? .... No? Just me then I guess. When I opened my eyes this morning, I cursed God for not letting me sleep any longer to avoid my inevitable hangover. I'm not quite sure what happened last night. All I can truly remember was a keg filled with cheap beer, several attempts at dethroning the beer pong champions of the party, and wandering through the streets of Laguna Beach at three A.M. trying to hail a cab that wasn't there. The laws handed down by the alcohol Gods long ago state clearly that whatever a man reaps the night before, he must sow the next. Yea my brothers, I have indeed sinned and today I must suffer the merciless wrath of the alcohol Gods.

Needless to say, cracking open a cold one doesn't exactly sound like the best idea in the world, but as I've said many times in the past, the 365brews project must roll onward, hangover or not. To soften the inevitable that another beer will surely deliver to my stomach, liver and brain cells, I've decided to try a hybrid called Stiegl's Lemon Beer. Stiegl's Lemon Beer is a strange concept; half beer and hald lemon soda. Although I wouldn't technically consider this to be a true beer, I was too intrigued by the idea of mixing beer and soda to pass Stiegl's Lemon Beer up. Unfortunately, the combination of soda and beer tasted just about as unappetizing as it probably sounds in your mind. I'm not quite sure why the brewers at Steigl ever dreamed up the concept of lemon beer. I can only assume that it was meant to be a fun, light alternative to the tradional lagers that Stiegl is known for, but it's pretty clear to me that they missed the mark. If you're the kind of person who doesn't really care for the taste of beer, Stiegl Lemon Beer might be a nice alternative, but in my personal opinion, Steigl's only found a way to ruin perfectly good beer by mixing it with soda.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

June 7, 2009: Coor's Light

Tonight I've decided to attend a party with a couple of friends and roll the dice, hoping that someone will have brought a new beer that I haven't used for the 365brews project. The good news is that my gamble paid off; there's a keg in the backyard full of a brand new beer. The bad news: the beer in the keg is Coor's Light.Under normal circumstances, Coor's Light is the one beer that I would absolutely refuse under almost any conditions. Put quite simply, Coor's Light is just about the worst beer that I have ever tasted, and we all know that I've had my fair share of many different beers. Coor's Light is so bland, flavorless and downright unappetizing that I consider it to be a beer in name only. Sure, Coor's Light is probably made with hops, yeast, barley and water like all other beers, but the end result is something less than true beer in my opinion. Coor's Light's latest advertising gimmick boasts this beer as being the most refreshing beer in the world, which
I can't really argue with since Coor's Light is essentially carbonated water that has fermented somehow in my opinion. I gave this beer an honest effort and finished a full cup (in addition to the many cups I was forced to drink in a few games of beer pong that I played, which I can only assume were filled with Coor's Light), but I can promise you that this will probably be the last time that I ever willing drink a Coor's Light.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

June 6, 2009: Paulaner Marzen

I once had a teacher who asked me to write about what I thought was the most significant invention or innovation of the last two hundred years. I can't remember exactly what I wrote about, but I'm sure I settled with one of the usual suspects like the printing press, the automobile or the telephone. Looking back on this assignment of highly questionable educational value, what I should have chosen was the invention of refrigeration. There are few modern conveniences that taken for granted like the fridge. It's become such a stalwart of the modern kitchen that most people reach into the refrigerator every day without ever thinking about what an amazing innovation it truly is. Before the refrigerator was invented, preserving food was a veritable crap shoot. People had to use ice boxes or even root cellars to try to keep their food from rotting. Like any food made from natural ingredients, beer will eventually spoil if it is not properly refrigerated. This simple law of nature made brewing beer in the summer almost impossible in the summer for centuries. In Germany, March was the last month in which beer could safely be brewed, so most breweries produced copious amounts beer in the spring before the summer heat made it impossible to preserve. These were the very same beers that our friends Hans, Fritz and Klaus would enjoy every year during Oktoberfest, which today is equivalent to the beer lover's olympic games.

Paulaner Marzen is a beer brewed in the same tradition as these beers that existed before the advent of the refrigerator. Marzens were brewed to be rich and hearty beers that were capable of being stored for long periods of time while still retaining their taste. While I can only guess as to what a true marzen that was brewed before the creation of refrigeration might taste like, I'd like to believe that Paulaner Marzen is pretty close to being the real McCoy. Paulaner Marzen pours a deep golden amber color with an off white head that sticks around for a little while, but not long enough. Paulaner Marzen has a very mild, wheaty flavor that is complimented by the understated accent of floral hops, caramel malts and a general sweetness that seems to permeate this brew. Overall, I'd say that Paualner Marzen is a decent example of what an Oktoberfest beer should be, but there are certainly a handful of others that I would pick before it. Paulaner Marzen is a seasonal beer, so look for it in the springtime and enjoy!


Monday, August 17, 2009

June 5, 2009: Aventinus

When I first started the 365brews project, one of the most common questions that I got besides "Why the hell are you doing this?" was "Do you really think that you're going to be able to find that many different beers?"

"Of course!' I said 'There are thousands of different beers in the world, I've got to be able to find at least 365."

As it turns out, I was right. There are plenty of beers out there for me to choose from. The problem that I hadn't anticipated however, was finding beers that interested me. At first I figured that drinking a beer every day would be great and that I wouldn't have any trouble grinditg it out. I mean, how bad could it really be drinking my favorite beverage constantly? I was convinced that my entire plan was foolproof, but there was one problem that I never accounted for. The one factor that I had forgotten to plug into the equation was finding beer that still interested me after a few months of drinking beer everyday. By this point in the 365brews project, alot of these beers start sounding the same. Blah blah blah hefeweizen..... yadda yadda yadda white ale.... you just never know what to expect until you pop the top and find out for yourself.

Thanks to my newfound ennui for all things alcoholic, I've found it hard to muster up any sort of inspiration when I'm shopping for new beers. I used to be a lot more thorough with my selection process, but by this point my selection criteria has devolved into these two categories: A.) Is it cheap? and B.) Have I had it yet? This is hard for me to admit as a self confessed beer snob, but the process by which I choose each beer has become more or less a crap shoot. Sometimes you reach for the first thing on the shelf and strike gold, and other times you come up with liquid crap. Fortunately, tonight I've struck it rich with a surprising little beer called Aventinus. I found this one on sale for a pretty modest price at my local beverage shop, so I didn't really expect much. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Aventinus when I tried it for myself and it didn't totally suck. This one pours a rich, dark shade of chestnut brown that has become the hallmark of most dunkels. Aventinus is a bit darker than the average dunkel, which gives a much more complex and layered flavor with hints of caramel hops, spice and even banana. There have been a few times during the 365brews project that I've found myself to be mired down in a horrible slump, but whenever that happens, it simply takes a fine beer like Aventinus to free me from my rut and remind myself of why I'm doing this absurd project in the first place.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

June 4, 2009: La Rossa

Ahhhhh, Italy! There's no other place on earth quite like it. The only country on the planet where you can work for three hours, take a three hour lunch, then come back to work for a couple more hours (or not. who's going to be able to tell the difference? Everyone else is still asleep). An entire country full of people who can't seem to speak without waving their arms around wildly in the air like marionette puppets. A culture where every man with functioning genitalia is convinced that he is God's gift to women, and is just dying to prove it to any gullible, toed headed tourist. Yes, Italy is a nation that is nation that is well know for many of it's peculiarities, but not so much for their brewing heritage. The grape has always been king in Italy, and it's no secret that some of the world's finest red wines have been produced there for centuries, but as a nation they've been slow to jump on the beer bandwagon. In fact, one of the worst, most god awful examples of putrid filth that I've ever had the displeasure of tasting was an Italian lager called Wuhrer.(It only cost me 54 euro cents when I was last vacationing in Italy, but I would have demanded a refund if it were possible. Seriously, don't try Wuhrer.) As a result, I've always been a bit biased against any beer that happen to come from Italy, but the 365brews project has taught me to expand my horizons a bit and to be careful about judging anything until I've tried it for myself.

Tonight my friend Chris just happened to show up with a six pack of an Italian beer called La Rossa, which he was more than happy to share with me. Moretti and Peroni are pretty much the only two Italian beers that have any kind of presence on the international market, so it's no surprise that La Rossa is brewed by the makers of Moretti. La Rossa is a red ale, which if you have any grasp of a latinate language like Italian you were probably able to figure out. Most Italian beers follow the vienna style lager format, which generally means a light golden color, slight edge of hops and notoriously light on the tastebuds. La Rossa however, as the name implies, is a red ale which is pretty uncommon for the eyeties. As a result, La Rossa turned out to be a much more interesting beer than I had anticipated. La Rossa is a dopplebock that is a dark, rich red color with a very complex mix of flavors and aromas that grabbed my attention from the first sip. If you grab a case of La Rossa, be sure to look out for the flavors of malt, caramel and dark roasted grains that are infused in flavor of this beer. While Italy still may not known for it's world class beers, La Rossa is definitely a step in the right direction toward changing their lacklustre reputation.