With the approach of summer, much consumer emphasis is placed on going outside, at least into your backyard. A boom for the hardware companies who push everything from gazebos to charcoal grills. Add to this the grocery stores’ appeals for grilling just about everything, and last but not certainly the least, this is also The Summer Of Beer (which starts here).
The recent return of a famous international lager has proved to be a disappointment. Steinlager, now known as Steinlager Classic, is a shadow of its former self. A beer I am well acquainted with for over 25 years. I never have forgotten a memorable beer, and I remember knowing the taste distinction between Steinlager brewed in Auckland and that produced in Wellington.
The 25.4 oz bottle from Wellington in those times, was the best Stein’ available. I will always recall the full body lager that was in those days batched brewed, using only the four classic ingredients, giving it an apple-ginger note in the finish. I suspect that this ester characteristic was due to the New Zealand hops, which are highly prized, as a brewery in Chico, California will tell you.
The stupid green glass bottle has always been problematic. Providing very little light protection, six packs of the beer would wind up being presented as yet another skunked import. But I had a good working relationship with my local beer store (as I do now), and so I had unopened cases of 25.4 oz Stein available for several years.
So it is with some sadness to taste this most recent manifestation of Steinlager. Its not that it tastes bad, and it most certainly is drinkable, its just that it has lost its distinctive character. A visit to the Steinlager web site seems to reveal a corporate marketing approach which is long in hype and short on actual details.
Another return proved to be more pleasurable. North Coast Brewing’s Acme Pale Ale is a beer I first tasted 13 years ago. I loved it then and I love it now (which makes me wonder if they still make Acme Brown Ale?) with its straightforward focus on balance of malt and hops. The pale ale is a good example of achieving flavor complexity using simplicity: Yakima hops combined with two-row barley.
A new edition to the Acme line, or at least one I never had a chance to sample before, is Acme India Pale Ale, a wonderful old school, California style take, which for myself, provided refreshing relief from all the extreme versions where lupulin is the reason for existence. Which is also what I love about Acme beers: they always remember the importance of malt.