Black as Night
Great Lakes Brewing Co. of Cleveland makes one of the most popular porters around. Edmund Fitzgerald is fairly light and heavily roasted with notes of coffee and perhaps some dry English hops. It is a black, black beer and in no way sweet. Great Lakes recently collaborated with local porter giant Deschutes Brewery to make a big smoked porter. It sounds delicious.
Koko Brown recently made it into the mixed cases my dad buys at the Costco. It was recommended to me a few months ago. It’s brewed with toasted coconut and tastes nice. It’s brown and toasty with the same subtle sweetness of the Kona porter. Despite my fear of the Craft Beer Alliance, they are making decent beers lately.
Resin reminds me of Christmas. When you get that fresh tree, take it home and drag it through the house, only to realize that you can’t fit it in the tree stand, so you have to saw through the lower branches and get sap all over your hands and clothes. Sixpoint Resin is like that — sticky, piney, and bitter.
Gearing Up for Summer
Despite the bad reputation of canned lager, craft brewers across the country are brewing some solid interpretations. Shift is what my brother Dan would call lawn mowing beer. It’s great for pairing with heavy lifting. Crisp, slightly hoppy, slightly malty — Shift is nicely balanced.
Eagle Claw Fist is too bitter. I just grabbed a bottle off the shelf figuring I ought to give an imperial amber ale. Sounded sort of like a barley wine to me. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out it was nearly a year old, bottled in June of twenty twelve.
You can’t age this stuff. It’s just completely and utterly bitter. Leave a burger on the grill for an hour and then add pepper spray. Bitter, bitter, bitter — no real hop flavors to pull out of the murk.
A few years ago the mere difficulty of this beer, the extremeness of flavor, would have impressed me. But these days I am more into actual taste than bigness and intensity.
Dogfish Head in Falls Church
But the pub in Falls Church was sort of a let down. Found in the middle of a strip mall, the Dogfish Head Brewpub is the sort of place you go with your parent when you’re ten; The food is greasy and the beer is actually more expensive than in bottles, two thousand miles away in Portland. I tried to enjoy myself though. I ordered a few beers form of the ancient ales series and a pizza.
The Namaste wit was just so boring. The ingredient list includes dried organic orange slices, fresh-cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander, but the flavor is weak and the body is too thin for my liking. It’s lemony and wheaty and I should’ve known better.
But then I moved on to the Chateau Jiahu. It was nuts. Alcohol and sweetness — like mead, followed by grape juice and a bit of yeast. This is more my style, more what I expect from Dogfish’s weird experiments. I’m not sure if it’s actually delicious, or if I was just intrigued by the unique flavor.
Sarah tasted the similarly bizarre Positive Contact. It’s a blend of cider and beer with chili peppers and cilantro. Sarah liked it. It didn’t taste too spicy. Or spicy at all. Sarah’s dad loves the Palo Santo Marron with it’s vanilla and chocolate. Especially on draught. The bottle lends a bit of a bite to the beer that can be off-putting.
Even though the food was a bust, the beer was exactly what I expected: weird but delicious.
Brooklyn Brown Ale taste more like a lightly tinted porter than a brownie brown. It’s got a toasted, nutty flavor just shy of coffee roast. The body is perfectly round and the finish has a distinct bite. It could be the snap of hops.
It nice to finally tasting something from my minor hero Garrett Oliver. I loved his book, the Brewmaster’s Table, and love that his articles in the Oxford Companion to Beer are always witty and on point. Dude knows whats up.
If you are interested in beer and food, definitely check out The Brewmaster’s Table.
A terrapin is a turtle and as Sarah pointed out, the mascot of the University of Maryland. But Terrapin beer comes from Athens, Georgia. The Rye Pale Ale I picked up at the Total Wine in McLain was pretty good stuff. I like the grainy rye spice, but the pale ale part is just sort of cursory— you know, a bit of citrus and stuff. It’s easy drinking and tasty.
What does rye taste like alone? I need to find some roggenbiers.
Mexico and Vienna
Despite the name, Vienna lagers are probably best known as Mexican beers. All the big Mexican beers have German and Austrian roots. You could even say Mexican beer started with a single man: Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico. Yep, Mexico was once a monarchy and Maximilian I was an Austrian Archduke who came to rule at the behest of the Mexican aristocracy. Look it up sometime.
Back to the point. Vienna lager is a dark lager and a close cousin of Munich Märzen. Devil’s Backbone makes a decent simulation of the Mexican favorite. Think Negra Modelo — toast and bitterness in equal parts. The history is more interesting than the beer.
Call Your Mother
A hefeweizen with rose petals? Sounds good. Appropriately ladylike. You know, ladies like light beers. And flowers.
But Rogue doesn’t know what they are doing. Twenty-five years and they still haven’t figured out that a hefeweizen uses a different yeast than a stout or an IPA? How do they get away with using “Pacman“ in everything? This tastes nothing like a German wheat, or a Belgian wheat. And the rose petals never make an appearance.
If you bought this for your mother, call her back and apologize.