A HAPPY BEER

As the year moves toward the summer solstice, thoughts turn towards the summer beers that this year I haven’t even sampled. With the exception of one: Wacko, the deliciously red colored ale from The Magic Hat Brewing Company, a surprisingly full bodied work, even if the alcohol level only clocks in at 4.5% abv.  But the finish of this well made ale reflects Magic Hat’s distinct personality, probably mostly due to the use of their own yeast.
I know I said I just sampled one summer offering, but I forgot, I also tried Widmer Brothers Brewery’s Drifter Pale Ale, a complex yet subtle flavor profile, with a harmonious balance of malt and hops, that is very gentle and yet very flavorful. Odd too that this is of a much higher strength than Wacko (5.7%), but with a much lighter body. Incongruous viscosity, so to speak.
In terms of beer development, this is probably the best of times. Craft brewers (which is a misnomer, since brewing any good beer involves craftsmanship, but more on that in a moment) and large brewers, continue to present new offerings, whether it is a bold flavor experimental recipe, or a revival of  beer brands made in an earlier time; such as the return of fully krausened  Old Style, the revival of original Schlitz, and the revival of a beer long ago associated with the Cincinnati Reds: Burger.
Which reminds me of a remarkable statement I came across by Joe Schiraldi, Vice President of brewing operations at The Left Hand Brewing Company. It seems that Mr. Schiraldi recently attended some “craft” brewing conference, where some keynote speaker went out of his way to trash the so-called macro brewers. Joe took offense at this because Mr. Schiraldi knew, that the craftsmanship and quality control done on a large scale, is just as important as a tiny brew kettle. And even more important where the innovations and knowledge discovered by the titans of beer business, that are now used by everyone, from craft brewer to home brewer. Anyway, Joe Schiraldi said this: “The title of the latest block buster movie BEER WARS elicits this response from me: “No thanks… I would prefer to make happy beer to promote peace, understanding and detente among all people.”
Which is the way I see things myself. Once upon a time I too adhered to the beer snob credo that found it necessary to criticize what someone else enjoyed drinking. Ah but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now, as Saint Bob would say.
Another good example of this happened on a thread at the Beer Advocate web site. The topic posted was why there was so little respect for Budweiser American Ale? I posted a comment that I thought A-B did a great job at creating a highly drinkable ale, of consistent quality, now available nearly everywhere. I received one angry response that said: “I would never buy that garbage.”
Which made me wonder what was considered to be garbage? The Cascade hops? The two-row barley malts? Or simply the fact that it is brewed without any adjunct grains? Strange too that such language is employed at Beer Advocate, who uses the credo: “respect beer”. Does that only apply to the boutique breweries who obtain cult like status? Or does that apply to the traditional role of beer as the drink of the people?
The term respect beer means for me, having some appreciation for all the work and love that went into you being able to enjoy the beer that you have, whatever the recipe style. To simply know, that the people engaged in producing that brew were involved in a positive activity. As the folks at The Bear Republic Brewing Company say: make beer, not bombs.
Thank you, the only prayer
The Beer Doctor

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