Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dogfish Head Festina Pêche

Our tour of great summer beers continues with Dogfish’s version of a Berliner Weisse. This tart wheat beer style, a traditional summertime treat in Berlin, is generally doctored with woodruff or raspberry syrup for added sweetness. But there’s no need to add syrup to your bottle of Festina Pêche. It’s sweet and fruity already because it’s fermented with peaches! It’s a classic Berliner Weisse in a lot of ways. It’s crisp and intensely tart, with a green apple like character derived from fermentation with lactic cultures. At only 4.5 percent ABV and a mere 8 IBU, it’s the very definition of a “light” summertime beer. It was made to be consumed two or three bottles at a time. The twist, then, is that the peaches take this particular Berliner Weisse to a whole new level. The classic sour snap is still there, but it’s balanced by a nice peachy tang. Whether you treat it as a “dessert” beer or simply gulp it like a maniac after coming in from mowing the lawn on a 90 degree day, Festina Pêche is an absolute essential of summertime beer drinking.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Victory Summer Love Ale

New tradition: it’s not officially summer until I’ve had a Summer Love Ale. Clean and refreshing but still flavorful enough to satisfy the discriminating beer drinker, Summer Love gets it hops and malts from Germany and the United States. Like a lot of summertime beers, it’s on the lighter side and really quenches the thirst. But with its noble hop character and lemony tang, it will not be confused for a Land Shark Lager. Its mildly bitter hop profile is perfectly balanced by light grainy malts and sweet notes of citrus. And the finish is crisp and dry – just like you’d expect from a good warm weather beer. Victory, maker of some of the finest ales and lagers in the world, is not afraid to brew a session beer. I’d say that this is Victory’s most sessionable beer. Enjoy one at your next pool party or cookout, or have a bottle while you're listening to the ball game tonight. Live it up: the summer will have come and gone before you know it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rogue Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale

Holy crap! This beer is so freaking good it brings tears of joy to my eyes! Tasting it is like being visited by the beer gods and having them smile upon you. I might, at some point, be forced to kill for a bottle of this stuff. It would behoove you at that point to not be in my way. Like any Rogue ale I’ve had, it’s world class.

A big, strong red ale brewed in honor of Sig Hansen and his brothers Edgar and Norman, Rogue’s Northwestern comes in a 22-ounce bottle and is worth every pretty penny it’ll cost you. A portion of the proceeds will support the Fisherman’s Fund, so why not treat yourself and support a worthy charity at the same time? At 80 IBUs, you’d expect a hoppy red ale. And it is. But it’s aggressively malted as well to create a balanced, insanely delicious ale that goes down smooth. It’s a Rogue ale, of course, so it’s made from the best stuff on earth (Wait, no, that’s Snapple). If you think you’d enjoy an ale made with Carastan, chocolate, Micro Barley Farm Dare & Risk malts, Amarillo hops, Rogue Micro Hopyard Revolution & Rebel Hops, Rogue’s Pacman Yeast, and free range coastal water, then this, my friend, is the beer for you. It comes on with a piny/grapefruity nose and flavor, backs it all up with a ton of bready and sweet malts, and finishes with a lingering, near orgasmic aftertaste that’ll make you wish you’d bought an extra bottle. There was a time in my life when 22 ounces of beer seemed like too much to drink in one sitting. That time has passed. Pour yourself one of these the next time you watch The Deadliest Catch. Herring heads are optional.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stone Brewing Co. Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

I'm kind of funny sometimes. Tired of the overly assertive IPAs that seem to be all over the place right now, I sought relief from a beer that's exponentially more assertive! I know that’s hardly logical, but this bad boy was exactly what the doctor ordered. Yes indeed! There’s no denying that Oaked Arrogant Bastard is all it's cracked up to be: a big, bold beer that is not for the faint of heart. But here’s the thing: it's as delicious as it is assertive. Stone won't reveal the IBU count, but I'm guessing that it dwarfs the hoppiness of all those beers I write off as "too bitter". The key to this ale's awesomeness, then, is that it brings the malts BIG TIME. And that's the way it ought to be. If you're going to brew a "big" beer but the only thing big about it is the hops, then you're only half way there. Maybe that's what bothers me about a lot of IPAs: the floral/grapefruit hop bite is dialed up so high that you just don't taste anything else. I like hops, but I love malts. With rich notes of vanilla and caramel, Oaked Arrogant Bastard comes on like a malt bomb. Then it quickly sends you across the room with a hefty hop kick. Thank you, sir. May I have another? What a wonderfully complex and rich flavored ale this is! It's bitter and sweet and fruity and grainy and even a little woodsy from the oak chip aging. Mmmmmm! Far from a typically one dimensional hop monster, this ass-kicker of an ale is everything that's good about a beer...times ten! I think I paid something along the lines of $5.50 for one bottle of the stuff, and even at that price I got a real bargain. Without a doubt: one of the best beers on earth!