Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bottles or Cans? Always Pour Into a Glass

While at Lazlo's Beer Tour this past Monday night a question was posed to Jim about cans vs. bottles. Many of the newer craft beer companies are packaging their beer in cans, when it has been the practice over the last few years to go with bottles - so much so that, for many people, the experience of craft beer is connected to bottles, while cans are looked down upon and connected in the culture to "mass-produced". Part of the reason that start up breweries (until recently) packaged in bottles was that it was cheaper (until recently) to bottle as compared to cans. In the last few years this trend has reversed and it has become very affordable to can: the equipment is affordable and the cost of cans is much lower than that of bottles. Some brewers (including Sierra Nevada) have done controlled taste tests comparing canned vs. bottled beer and there is no discernable difference. There are several benefits to canned beer for the consumer. The main one is that the can protects the beer from UV light, the main culprit in "skunking" beer. Cans are lighter and pack more efficiently. They are easier to carry in and way easier to carry out when bringing beer to a picnic or camping trip. Since they crush when empty, they don't take up as much room in your trash. As a follow up to this conversation, Jim said that a bottle is a delivery package for beer, not something that you should drink it out of. Several things happen (or fail to happen) when you drink beer out of a bottle: not enough  CO2  is released, affecting the taste; and you are cutting off your sense of smell, which, as any 5th grade science student knows, is a huge component of taste; you don't get a head, which, among other things, traps some of the aroma (and therefore flavor) in the bubbles. Drinking out of a can is somewhat better than a bottle, since you have that round flat surface of the beer separated by air from the top of the can, allowing some air flow. Jim's advice was pour your beer into something, even if it's a plastic cup.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lagunitas DayTime Fractional IPA

Yes! A sessionable IPA that is also high in hop content. DayTime crosses the finish line at 54.2 IBU, but only 4.65% ABV. This was truly tasty IPA, with a nice mix of grapefruity and piney hops with just the right amount of bitterness. Some citrus in there as well. Lagunitas does it again!

Oskar Blues: Old Chub Scotch Ale

The final beer in my three-beer Oskar Blues fest on July 4th. Completely different than the other two. A good representation of the Scotch Ale style, Old Chub and a rich, creamy consistency and a flavor profile redolent of coffee and chocolate. A breath of smoke hiding out in there as well!

Oskar Blues: Pinner Throwback IPA

Another offering from Oskar Blues brewery in Longmont Colorado, also at 35 IBU, but a much richer, fuller flavor, with the hop character coming out much more obviously than with the pilsner. Lots of tropical fruit, including mango and pineapple and a hint of spiciness that would go well with some chili and even some curry.

Oskar Blues: Little Yella Pils

Small batch pilsner, made without any of those adjuncts like corn and rice which you'll find in the mass-produced pilsners. I tried it in a can (as I did the next several reviews) so I can't adress the hue or head quality. Pretty refreshing - it went well with the Fourth of July fare at Nick Kelso's annual bash. Fairly hoppy at 35 IBU, which in reality what a pilsner should weigh in at, but what you don't see in the mass-market lagers. Low-to-medium ABV, making it a great session brew.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Schaben's Pilsner from Thunderhead Brewing

Thunderhead Brewing is another one of those fine Nebraska brewers producing fine ales & lagers for our beer drinking enjoyment. Thunderhead has always been about 6 or 7 on a scale of 10 in my opinion, pretty good, but not damn good...know'msayin'? This pilsner is decent, but isn't lighting the world on fire; but maybe a beer doesn't always have to do that. If you're looking to support local business, but aren't out for a unique, flavorful brew, this may be for you. Low hops at 20 IBU, 5% ABV and not much in the way of flavor. Inoffensive.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blue Blood's Kompagnon Kölsch

Kölsch,to remind those who are not obsessive about beer styles as I am, is a hybrid style: brewed with ale yeast and warm fermented as ales are, but then lagered, i.e. set aside in cool temperatures as lagers are. Altbier is the other main hybrid style. Altbiers, however, tend to be a medium dark in hue, with a nutty, or sometimes chocolaty flavor, while a Kölsch tends to be golden in color and much lighter in body, closer to the lager side of the family. While I question whether this is a true Kölsch, Blue Blood has done a pretty good job of replicating the taste and feel of the style. It pours crisp and clear with a bright white head. There's flowery and fruity notes and an unobtrusive sweetness. Low IBU and ABV, making for a good beer for the hot days of summer.