Wednesday, July 15, 2009
In England, things are done a lot differently than they are here in the states. We play baseball and basketball, they play football (soccer) and rugby. We use the restroom, they call it the loo. We visit the dentists regularly, and they.... well, let's just say that they've never been known for their dental hygiene. Among the many differences between the yanks and the limeys is brewing tradition. Lagers have long ruled in the court of popular opinion here in the states, but the Brits have always had a penchant for the darker, heavier ales. Tonight's beer is Fuller's ESB and it's a classic example of what our friends across the pond call a bitter.
So what is a bitter, you ask? Basically it's just what they call a pale ale in the U.K. While there is a lot of variation and room for creativity withing the genre of bitter, it's basically brewed by the same process that tradition pale ales are all around the world. The ESB in Fuller's ESB stands for "Extra Special Bitter", but I've been scratching my head trying to figure out what that means exactly. How does a bitter become classified as extra special, and what does being extra special entail? The actual classification states that a beer must be above 4.8% alocohol by volume, but the term ESB is used more loosely in the U.K. than it is here in the states. I may never figure out the criteria for the extra special bitter title, so all I can go with is my own palate, which found Fuller's ESB to be a very smooth, very drinkable dark ale. Fuller's ESB pour a deep, true honey color with an impressively fluffy white head that sticks around for quite a while. Like most bitters, Fuller's ESB is best served cold because the combination of bitterness and flatness that come together when the beer warms up makes it a lot less enjoyable in my opinion.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tonight I'm drinking a German Hef called Erdinger. Erdinger claims to be the biggest brewer of wheat beers in the world, and sells pretty well throughout Germany and the European Union, although it has virtually no presence in the import market in America. I'd read a few reviews about Erdinger's Weissbier online, which led me to expect the worst. Erdinger pours a murky yellowish gold with an impressive head that sticks around for a bit. I pick up scents of lemon, pepper and wheat in the aroma, and the taste was pretty much the traditional wheaty flavor that's become the standard for hefeweizens. All in all, I would rate this beer as above average, but not quite good. There are definitely many other hefs that I would choose before Erdinger, but try this one if you can find it and decide for yourself.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Tonight I'm trying Budweiser's newest beer Budweiser American Ale and I'm a little bit skeptical. American ale? What the bloody hell is American ale? Did they somehow invent a whole new recipe that the entire brewing world has been oblivious to? Actually that would be a whole lot more interesting if that were the case, but instead they've just decided to brew an amber ale and call it American ale. Whatever.
Anyway, if you look past the absurb name of American ale, this is a really decent beer. Budweiser American Ale is brewed with caramel malted barley, and the scent of caramel is evident right from the first pour, as well as cascade hops and a hint of honey on top. Budweiser American Ale is good alternative to the standard Budweiser which some beer fans find to be a bit lackluster or uninspired (before I start getting hate mail, let me say that I love Budweiser, so don't send me a message calling me a commie or anything please). Budweiser American Ale has a bit more heft to it than Bud original, so it feels a bit thicker going down but not too bad. My favorite thing about Budweiser American Ale though is the sweetness that comes across in the malt. All in all this is a solid beer, but not really anything special.
Well folks, it's then end on May, the weather is starting to heat up a bit, tops are getting lower, shorts are getting shorter, which can only mean one thing; summer is right around the corner. That's right kids, it's time to wish you had started that diet a few months earlier, time to try and get a tan before anyone notices how ghostly white your skin is, and time to enjoy a cold beer or two. I've grown up in Southern California, so it's no wonder why summertime has always had a special place in my heart. There are a lot of drawbacks for a person like me living in Orange County, but the beautiful summers are one of the reasons that keep me from picking up and leaving forever. Time seems to slow down here a bit in the summer, and there's a lot more time to stop yourself every now and then and just take it all in. Tonight, I'm out to dinner with friends enjoying a nice, cold Sam Adams Summer Ale. Just like the season it's named for, Sam Adams Summer Ale only comes around once a year, which is a shame in my opinion. I've been a fan of Sam Adams for a long time because they're a large brewery that still seems to do things the right way. Sam Adams Summer Ale is a great example of how quality ingredients and attention to detail can combine to make one stellar beer. A lot of people get a little uneasy when the hear the word ale. They think of a thick, bitter, undrinkable beer that's going to fill them up quickly. That's the beauty of Sam Adams Summer Ale though; this beer is incredibly light and drinkable for an ale, without sacrificing any of the taste. With an aroma of banana, lemon zest and grain, Sam Adams Summer Ale brings a complex mixture of flavors to your palate that is sure to please even the most fickle of beer fans. If you can see yourself relaxing on the beach, attending a pool party, or even just opening up a window at night and enjoying the summer breeze, be sure to pick up a Sam Adams Summer Ale and be sure to sip it slow.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Warning: Consuming Stone IPA may result in toxic hop syndrome. Drink at your own risk!
If you count yourself as one of the many in the long and growing list of beer fans who crave a beer fully of hoppy flavor, then Stone IPA is the beer for you. The Stone Brewing Company has developed a no nonsense reputation when it comes to brewing. They skip the fruity twists and clever gimmicks, allowing their range of beers to stand on the strength of their own merits. Stone IPA is their flagship beer, and it is easy to see why once you taste it. Let me preface my comments by stating that I am a big fan of India Pale Ales. Few other styles of beer are as polarizing as IPA's, and it's really the kind of beer that you either love or hate. If you're a sick bastard like me and are into beers that are so bitter than they make your face pucker involuntarily, then you're going to love Stone IPA. The aroma of Stone IPA is enough to knock you off you're feet with strong scents of citrus, grapefruit and orange peel that tempt the tastebuds. Once you taste Stone IPA, you'll understand what I mean when I say that these guys don't mess around with the hops. Clearly the brewers at Stone understand and respect the tradition of brewing India Pale Ales, and have created a brew in Stone IPA that encompasses all of the attributes that make up a quality IPA. If you're not faint of heart and think you have the stones to tackle beer like Stone IPA, be sure to try a pint next time you are in Southern California.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Tonight I'm drinking a bottle of Beck's, an adequate German lager. Beck's has created a somewhat significant presence in the import beer market here in the states over the last decade, but has never been able to quite reach the level of a similar beer like Heineken. There really not much too Beck's; crisp taste, sort of bland finish, little to no lacing. Put quite simply, Beck's is your run of the mill, mass produced, European lager. Boring!
Tonight is one of those nights when I'm beginning to realize the drawbacks of being a beer snob. I'm sitting here in a restaurant with my grandmother and my girlfriend, my options for beer are limited, so my hands are tied and Beck's is my only choice. If I didn't care so much, I would be fine with Beck's. If I was able to just sit back, eat my dinner, shoot the breeze and not think about my beer then I'm sure Beck's would be a fine choice. Hell, I could probably run through a case of Beck's with one sitting and still be able to walk out of the place. Unfortunately, I've never found a beer that I was unable to pick apart, analyze, scrutinize and criticize. I can't just sit there with any old beer and just accept it for what it is. My God, could there be a beer more boring than this? I might as well be drinking a nice refreshing glass of sparkling mineral water. It confounds me that a beer like this could be produced on such a large scale, because it means that there is a definite market for this kind of beer. There are actually people out there who seek out bland, pale, boring lagers like Beck's, and I don't think I'll ever be able to really understand it. That's not to say that Beck's is some kind of terrible beer. I would simply list it somewhere near the bottom-middle of the pack; somewhere just beyond the range of beers that I would deem worthy of spending my hard earned money on. You can find Beck's pretty much anywhere beers are sold, so feel free to enter they abyss of blandness at your own risk.