False Equivalencies

I hate to say it, but this human sounds like an old man ranting at a cloud.

The whole tone is set off by being upset that ‘these kids just don’t know their history’ and my first question is: What does history have to do with whether or not a beer is good? It makes the author seem as if they are more concerned with the history than the quality of the beverage in their hands.

And I’m sorry but with beer, it’s always, always, going to be about what’s in your hands right now. So instead of asking why these people don’t appreciate where the roots of the craft beer they’re drinking comes from, why not ask, ‘why aren’t brewers doing a better job promoting what they’re about’ or, just as relevantly, ‘why aren’t other craft beer drinkers doing a better job of putting things in context’?

Because of course a new craft beer drinker, given the chance to drink the Abyss or Pliny the Elder for the first time, is going to be underwhelmed. They’ve spent how many days or weeks or maybe even years, hearing about HOW GREAT this beer is. Nothing can live up to the hype that you build up yourself.

But where they really lose me is where they compare comic book geek knowledge, or film director knowledge, to the knowledge that an average beer drinker has.

Comic book geeks and film directors have specialized. They know more about the art form because that’s what they’ve spent their time investing in.

The better comparison is to brewers, but that comparison never gets made. And I promise you that the younger generation of brewers knows who Sam Koch is (founder of Sam Adams brewing), why Fritz Maytag is important (he rescued Anchor Steam beer from bankruptcy), and why Garrett Oliver matters (chef as brewer bringing new perspective to beer and food, elevating the status of beer).

It isn’t on the person drinking the beer to know this though: the only questions they need to answer are: do I like this? Why?

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Round Two #3\Second Pint Yellowhammer

Block 15 Flanders Red AleI picked the Block 15 Flanders Red ale because I know Block 15 mostly for IPAs. They do some awesome IPAs, but I love this style and am hoping to see some skill on display!

I can feel the tartness in my nose when I breathe it in. Unripe strawberries or really tart raspberries come to mind. The first sip resembles this, too; the inside of my mouth puckers at the first couple sips of ale.

So I let it sit a little. Very slowly, I start to get a ghost of chocolate in the middle, and that goes a long way for giving this beer some dimension.

By my second glass, I’ve gotten used to this and the scents are not nearly as intense in the nose, anymore. I can even pick up some sweeter qualities in the scent. But the first sips are still muting the sweater elements so I hold off on drinking this quickly.

With the familiarity under my belt, I start to pick up something unusual in the scent, too; almost phenolic, medical in it’s sharpness. I clear my palate and smell again; it’s incredibly faint now, but it is there. It’s not enough to throw me off the beer, but it’s an unwelcome discovery.

Still, while the tartness is within tolerance ranges for me, I just prefer my Flanders red ales to be a little sweeter than this.

Today’s second pint goes to the Yellowhammer fund.

Common Ales: Pyramid Lemondrop Pale

Pyramid Lemondrop pale aleLet’s just dive right in!

It’s grassy in the nose, maybe lemongrass? But definitely evoking that cut lawn scent, and I dig it.

The lemon flavor sneaks up on me. I’m not sure what the tart or bitterness is, but I don’t pick it out as lemony until a few sips in. About a third of the way down, the beer starts to make sense. It’s doesn’t have enough sweetness to really be a lemondrop, but there is just enough to reign in the beer and keep me drinking.

This has a ‘hot day’ quality to it, as it finishes somewhere between dry and crisp. The Lemondrop doesn’t commit to one feeling or another and I think that’s an pretty apt ruling on the beer overall. It wants to hint at lemon but not demonstrate it, hint at bitterness but not flaunt it, tease a quenching feeling but not provide it.
It’s ok, but I can’t recommend it, because it doesn’t want to be something, it wants to be anything.

Round Two #2\Second Pint Truthout

Peach Pilot aleAfter some deliberation at the Proper Pint, I choose Fly Boy’s Pilot’s Peach pale ale. I’ve walked to the pub, which means I’m a little tired, a touch overheated and thirsty. Let’s have something on the lighter side.

So: the nose has some tropical qualities along with the scent of a freshly cut peach. I’m impressed!

And I’ll be damned, but the ale has a peach purée quality to it. This has multiple levels of meaning though, as the beer has some viscosity to it, a weight on my tongue that I wouldn’t expect from a beer. It’s lighter than a smoothie but definitely has more texture than I was expecting.

The nose fades pretty hard near the end and the beer goes a little flat as a result. If it sounds like I’m perplexed, then you’re right. The Pilot’s Peach had a very strong start but got weird, fast.

Glass two has a sulfuric scent strong enough to have me wondering if I got the same beer! The finish is a lot more sparkly, too, which lightens up the ale considerably from the previous glass.

This mutes the peach flavors, although that may be a result from this being this my second glass, too. Often when something isn’t ‘new’ the flavors aren’t as intense.

Also, the purée quality starts to register as more of a drawback, the further down I go. The fruit starts to override everything and sit on my tongue. Because there isn’t a cleansing moment for my palate, it starts to get a little sugar-sour; you know, when something is sweet enough that your mouth backlashes and a puckery quality appears in the upper corners of your mouth, behind the molars?

Maybe it’s just me. I honestly cannot piece out what’s going on with this beer. I don’t hate it by any means but I also feel as though I can only recommend it in a very narrow window.

Today’s second pint goes to Truthout.

What Can You Buy There #7: Cerveza Madriz – “La Gata Orgullosa”

I’m currently in Madrid, and as I was wandering around, I came across a lovely store called Más Que Cervezas (More Than Beers) disturbingly close to my apartment. While there, the clerks and I joked about Belgian beers invading the Canada section on their shelves, one of them tried to sell me on the beer from his hometown, so I picked up two beers to try: one Belgian and one local to Madrid.

La Gata Orgullosa by Cerveza Madriz has an…aggressive pour.

La Gata Orgvllosa ale

It was described to me in the store as a blonde ale, which I’m willing to buy…but a dark blond.

I wish I could find more information out about this particular beer, but I’ll have to make do with what I have…eyes, nose, and taste buds. Eyes you’ve already heard about. Nose: it is beer. I wish i could be more specific than that. It smells like beer with a slight caramel overlay. 

Taste: It’s not unpleasant. It tastes a little bit like homebrew. And I’m not saying that to slight homebrew. But there’s sometimes where you’re having homebrew, and you think, “This isn’t bad, but a bit more polish and practice and this could be really tasty.” Well, this is like that. The front end is competently beery, if perhaps a bit watery and the back end drags some grains across my palate. If both parts were smoother, I’d be a happy camper. As it is, it’s not terrible, but I’d not reach for another if I had a choice.

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