Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Interesting article in the NYT

The Other Extreme: Low-Alcohol Beers

I came across an interesting article yesterday on the New York Times website. The craft brew awareness is really just beginning to fully blossom in the United States (even Bud is making an "American Ale" that they are positioning as a craft beer). But this article brings to light a Renaissance occurring within the still-young craft brew phenomenon in the U.S.

Many of the beers that Jimmy, Mike, Alex, and myself have tasted and reviewed on this site are full-flavored, high alcohol, punch-you-in-the-face, beers. But it appears (at least this article offers us) that craft brewers across the nation are beginning to find a refreshing challenge in brewing low alcohol beers, that don't skimp you on the flavor. In the article, the author also interviews Jason Ebel of Two Brothers Brewery, whose Cane and Ebel Hopped-up Red Rye Ale was reviewed by me almost two months ago.

My initial reaction is that the full-on Hopheads will continue to steer towards the high ABV's. That's just the way it is. I understand the negatives that the author presents at the end of the article: "real" beer drinkers will always go high %, low % beer's taste gets lost in all the extreme flavors, etc.

I really think it has another side to it, though. Consider all the people on the "fringe". All the people that are intrigued by craft brew and "really want to get into it", but they are intimidated by the extreme flavors and high ABVs. Perhaps these low % beers could act as stepping stones for these "fringe" beer drinkers, providing them with a brew that has a good amount of flavor, but not as extreme as the high ABVs. It's just a thought, but in this growing market of craft beer, it's definitely worth a try.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout

The Darkness comes through again with another beer for me to indulge in. Please convince him to be part of us Hopheads dammit!! I had this stout to go along with my desert consisting of dark chocolate and gingersnap cookies. This lil' 12 ouncer was served in my mini Pocono beer fest pint.

Appearance: aka. The Dark Knight, this Batman was pitch black with a nut brown 1/3 finger foam head of glory.

Smell: Complex meteoric scents of roasty and toasty malts oh my! Dark chocolate and almond odors.

Taste: Very balanced and complex, I feel like every kind of malt and hops are in this one. Savory bittersweet/dark chocolate combined with a dark french roast coffee. I wish I could have this instead of coffee in the morning!

Mouthfeel: (SIDE NOTE - As I swirled the stout in my mouth and let it sit, I knocked over my beer, lost half of it! and it poured all over the left side of my keyboard, down my desk, onto my desktop and then the carpet. Fu*k me in the ass). Thick and creamy, the way I like my women. Carbonation lightly tingles and leaves a wonderful bitter velvety finish, almost like an IPA in a way.

Drinkability: (SIDE NOTE 2 - Some of my keys on my keyboard are starting to stick from the beer party foul spillage. Its as if somebody peed on my keyboard, university Vee-Tranny style.) Awesome. 9.5/10 and chills at 6.0% abv. Would have this beer either at the beginning or end of the night. I thought it would be weak sauce since it wasn't an imperial, but it exceeded my expectations. You can grab this stout from Bell's year round.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Urthel Hop-It Belgian IPA

Some fleeting thoughts on this beer:

I brought a nice big bottle of Urthel's Hop-It along with me for some delicious sushi at a restaurant that happens to be BYOB.

Appearance was pale, living up to the moniker I'm paraphrasing off the bottle "hoppy blonde ale."

The style "Belgian IPA" is no joke, though I would place it on the more Belgian end of the flavor spectrum. There was some bitter hop smack to the finish, but to my nose and taste buds (however distracted by sushi they may have been), the trademark Belgian sourness was up front and center.

Mouthfeel was light and bubbly. Good texture to go with my sushi.

I almost let the light feel fool me, until halfway through the bomber bottle I remembered this was a 9.5% Belgian. Maybe limit yourself to one bottle a night?

Overall it was a very interesting beer to drink. I don't get Belgians very often, as I'm usually drawn to the punch-you-in-the-face-with-hops offerings our American brewing brethren have to offer. Hence my purchase of the one called "Hop-It." I liked what I tasted though, and would recommend to any IPA drinker wanting a stepping stone over into the land of Belgians.

Urthel Hop-It Page
Thanks to Jimbo for the photo of his bottle of Hop-It. FYI, the bottle I got had a new, different label.