Tag Archives: lager

East Coast One

After arriving in Manhattan, my friend Ed took me to Molly Wee’s, which is somewhere near Madison Square Garden. While I probably could find it walking in the city, I couldn’t tell you where it is. New York is like that for me; familiar but mystifying.

While the selection was rather slim, it was my first chance to relax since I’d gotten on a plane 8 hours earlier. Stuck between everything I would expect, and nothing, I went with Samuel Adam’s Oktoberfest. It was a solid, reasonable beer, malty and it had a kind of workmanlike quality that I was going to rely on whenever I was limited in my choices. Sam Adams seems to have established itself pretty strongly, at least in the Yankee areas I were in, as the solid premium beer of choice.

Fortunately, my next stop was Brooklyn, where the awesome author of the Gift Donkey began to show me around. New York was quite warm, so she walked us through the neighborhood,  passing by the bad Korean place, the crazy local dive bar (“you will get weird looks when you walk in”)  and the Williamsburg expressway. On the porches people hung out, having overloud conversations about giant bugs or strange boyfriends, or maybe both. We stopped at Mugs, a badly lit place that had a six page menu; four of beer, and two of food.  Oh yeah, this was going to be my kind of place.

Many of the beers were belgian ales, many of which I recognized, and I was a little discouraged because I wanted to try something I hadn’t before. Then on the chalkboard sign that wasn’t even illuminated as well as a grade school stage play, I made out, Brooklyn Lager on the menu.

Well, I’ve never had that before! Gimmie.

The Brooklyn Lager was decent, but I admit I was hoping for a little more. My own fault, though, for picking a beer that is meant to be so unremarkable. Spoiled by the Hopswork lager? Maybe. 

So next up was Sixpoint’s Incubus. I had no idea what I was getting when I ordered this, and found myself confronted with a yellow, hazy beer with a banana nose. The head on it had large bubbles, giving it a foamy, airy quality that made the nose stand out. The beer wasn’t very challenging, but it was still pretty tasty, and by now I’ve been up for seventeen hours. Which is my way of saying; my notes and my memory both fail me. I forgot to take pictures, and was all done in, so should this be less than accurate, please forgive me.

Away from the Geek Riots

I’ll be short of pictures and posts for the next little while, as I’m on the road. Right now, in Seattle at PAX where fans of games of any and all types come to play, chat, meet up, freak out, and generally cause a good natured ruckus. Sometimes I have to get away from the groups though, and fortunately for me getting a good beer isn’t difficult, especially if one is willing to walk a little.

Just up the street is the awesome Elysian brewpub, where yesterday I tried at least three different beers, but the one that I remember is the Hubris imperial IPA. It was very smooth, with the usual bitter aftertastes of most IPAs mellowed out of it.

Today, at Von’s I had the Old No 8, billed as ‘The world’s strongest beer’. A cheerful exuberance based on the alcohol I’m sure because there’s certainly much stronger than this 8%er. I wasn’t informed as to what to what they style was, but one sip told me it was a Belgian dubbel; not quite alcoholic or complex to be a tripel, was my deciding, but still quite good. 

I also had Maritime Pacific’s Old Seattle Lager, and found it to be a fine counterpoint to the strong beer I ‘d just had. I’m sure it would be a great drink for those times when I’ll be working off the sweat of Left 4 Dead sessions, whereas I’d probably take the Old No 8 when I started some of the marathon board games they have here. You don’t always want to start playing Risk sober.

I put my money where my mouth is

The title of this post seems incredibly apt, now that I think about it. I mean, when we buy food of any sort, aren’t we engaging in just that behavior?

However, in this case I’m referring to the post on the great American Lager race from a couple days ago. Shortly after writing that post, Portland began a heat wave on Thursday that has had temps in the low hundreds. I’m not sure if this means I can control the weather via complaint, or just lucky timing (but obviously I’m hoping for weather control). Either way, the heat is expected to run though the weekend, so I did the only reasonable thing: I bought a twelve pack of Session lager. 

The first thing to note is that, no matter what, twelve ounce bottles of beer are cute. I know it’s not very manly to admit it, but damnit these little beers are adorable, in the same way that puppies are. Beer that says: you don’t have to grow up. 

But the most relevant thing is how it tastes, and on a day like today I am extremely thankful not only for the lightness of this beer, but for the other qualities it brings. Lightly hopped, the bitterness starts in front, but gives way easily to the malts of the beer, and finishes with the sparkle of carbonation. Easy-peasy, but not flavorless, not water that’s given the hint of beer, but a drinkable thirst quencher for a hot day. I am already looking forward to my third, and the clock has just broke the noon barrier.

Salon writeup

Now that Budweiser is no longer ‘American’, there seems to be a rush to find the next great American lager.

I’ll admit, when I read this story, my first thought is: Really? There’s a race to win the best worst beer in America, made by Americans?

Why, exactly, is THAT?

I get that a cheap, easy drinking beer is useful to have, because beer should be enjoyed by as many people as possible. I actually think it’s part of the culture of beer to be enjoyed by the masses. You bring beer to BBQs and just hand them out to guests. At parties, if it’s in the fridge that beer is fair game and nobody gets to complain if you drink it. Unlike wine, (which I personally enjoy) there isn’t a history of elitism as strongly associated with beer, and there aren’t prohibative costs as with whiskey or other spirits.

Beer should be for everyone, I think. Granted, not all beers are for all people, but that’s a matter of taste. That said, why is there a race to the bottom? “Let’s make sure we’re the top of the shitty beer heap!”

I guess it’s because there’s money to be made there, but if you want a cheap beer for a hot day, why not have a good one? Is spending an extra quarter in order to get a beer that tastes much better and is less brutal on your body really that big of an expense?

Hurm. Maybe that should be an experiment; I buy a half-rack of Session, some potato chips, and on the next hot day, drink it. Of course, the next hot day in Portland may never come, but what the heck, right? We barbeque here too, in full defiance of the sun.

Lager done right

I understand that most people who try to drink beers that aren’t produced by macrobreweries have issues with not just the ‘weight’ of the beer (density, mouthfeel, how they settle in the stomach) but also with the intensity of the flavors.  Sweet, bitter, floral, clove–these can put someone off who isn’t welcoming of it. Unfortunately, most microbreweries (and home brewers) avoid the lagers that are the popular American style for two reasons: 1) the market is pretty much cornered by the big brewers, and 2) lagers are hard to brew. As a result, most people only ever get to try a lager that has been watered down for the masses, instead of a truly refreshing drink, ideal for a hot day and pub grub, and beer lovers never get a chance to try a really well done lager. Thankfully, that’s changing.
3 beersThe Hopworks Urban Brewery won silver at the World Beer Cup 2008 for their lager, and deservedly so. There is a slightly bitter flower nose from the hops (I’m told they’re Saaz), but the body of this beer is all malt. 

You might be able to tell from the picture, but this lager is a few shades darker than your standard mass-produced lager. I’d assume that’s because ‘leeching’ agents to make the beer more ‘acceptable’, like corn or rice, haven’t been added. The malt flavors aren’t muted and hidden, they’re right up front with a  a really nice balance of sweet and roasted qualities, so this beer is very, very drinkable. 

Like any lager, as I reached the end of my glass, there was an ever so slight skunking of the beer–but this is to be expected from the warmth and the (thankful) light. That’s right; I’m drinking this lager as summer has started to push it’s way into Portland, and HUB’s lager is perfect for this time of year. It’s really refreshing, able to wash down not just the standard pub fair, but those spicy calzones they offer as well. (The red sauce at HUB is truly excellent)