Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stoudt's Brewing Company Karnival Kolsch

Adamstown, Pennsylvania’s Stoudt’s Brewing Company is one of America’s most venerable micro breweries. In business since 1987, Stoudt’s just keeps on making great beer without much hype. Although the brewery is just 40 minutes from my house, I actually bought my bottles of Karnival Kolsch in Toledo, Ohio. No matter - I’d go to Japan, Mars, or Middle Earth to get more if I had to! If you’re craving the perfect spring seasonal, this is IT! Kolsch beer was originally exclusive to Cologne, Germany. Known for its straw color and prominent hoppiness, the style eventually made its way outside of Cologne and into the American craft brewery market. Stoudt’s specialty is German style beers, and the Karnival Kolsch is expectedly outstanding. Although not at all bitter (just 22 IBUs!), it’s distinctively hoppy in the German tradition. The smell and the taste just scream “GERMAN!” A slight fruitiness and a really nice red wheat malt/biscuit like flavor balance out the noble Hallertau hops beautifully. All in all, it’s a clean, crisp, and incredibly refreshing beer that even your Coor’s Light loving pals will enjoy. Yet it’s got enough hop power and complexity of taste to satisfy hardcore beer geeks. The warm weather is coming, and this is the kind of beer you can drink all night as you kick back outdoors with your friends and enjoy the splendor of the season. It’s light in every way (color, taste, alcoholic content), yet in terms of taste it’s SO much more flavorful than your typical macro blonde. This is what a “light” beer is supposed to taste like. It quenches the thirst and goes great with a meal, but it doesn’t taste like corn-flavored water. I’d recommend buying in bulk. Cookouts, pool parties, and weekends at the beach are just a few weeks away. Don’t ruin these fine events with crap beer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dogfish Head Aprihop

So I’m drinking less these days. My doctor has advised me to lose weight, cut carbs, and bring down my blood sugar. I’m doing my best to heed this advice, and as a consequence I’ve cut my beer intake in half. So what does a beer blogger do when he’s forced to drink a smaller quantity of beer? Make better choices when it comes to the quality of beer! If I can only drink five or six beers all week, I gotta make ‘em count. That means loading up on the primo stuff. And it doesn’t get much more primo than Dogfish Head. If the Dogfish 60 Minute IPA is just about the finest beer to ever cross a human’s lips, then a seasonal variant of said beer is bound to be great as well. Right? Right! I generally don’t freak out for spring seasonals the way I do for fall’s Oktoberfests or winter’s stouts. But the Aprihop is a notable exception. Basically it’s an American IPA with apricots added in. Massively packed with Amarillo hops, this is not your father’s spring beer. Perhaps your first impression will be, “Damn, this is the best-tasting Magic Hat #9 I’ve ever had!” Or maybe it will be, “This is a Belgian ale, right?” Either way, you’re definitely going back for more and stocking up for the summer. The packaging quotes a blurb from Playboy (apparently some people buy it for the beer articles) saying Aprihop has “over the top smoothness.” I certainly won’t argue. The hops are powerful and chock full of the grapefruit and pine notes you expect from a top-notch IPA. There are just enough malts for balance. The apricots do not go unnoticed, but the added sweetness is not at all overdone. Overall this beer is quite refreshing, but far too potent to suck down like it’s water. At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t beat your basic 60 Minute IPA. But since baseball season has started, we can call this Dogfish’s change-up. It’s something a little different, and it hits all the right notes this time of the year. You’ll rarely see me touting a fruit beer. Enjoy the moment.