Sunday, April 25, 2010

Farewell to the Summer of Beer

Summer of Beer started primarily as a way to document some of the adventures I was having in a way that my friend Brian, who lived in Pensacola at the time and now in Baltimore, could track and discuss what was happening and what I was doing on this side of the beer world. It began to evolve into something more- a combination of a release from the daily school/study grind, and a way to wrap myself up in the adventure of craft beer hunting. It was fun but as time has gone on this whole thing has become more of a lifestyle than an adventure. I don't walk into places really looking forward to trying something new, although that's always a plus if I think or know it's going to be good. No, hitting my local pub and having a pint of Racer 5 or Blind Pig brings as much, if not more satisfaction than trying that "new" beer everyone is talking about.

I asked myself back in 2005, as I was drinking and reviewing as many different beers as I could, if I really liked beer, or if I just liked beer and really liked the concept of being in the small minority of people in our country who participate in such a quest. At the time I didn't know. I've evolved to know I really like beer, and don't give too much thought to the quest anymore.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to discuss craft beer over the span of a few years where I think it really took off. Sure the late 90's and early 2000's saw great advances, not just in numbers but in brewing concepts. Just look at what Stone was doing then (with a much smaller following than now of course). But I was able to see and attend the emerging wave of special release events (thank you Lost Abbey), the opening of one of the country's greatest brewery/restaurant destinations (thank you Stone World Bistro & Gardens), drink Pliny the Younger before you had to wait in lines that wrap around the bars serving it, and much much more. Maybe in a small way I've become one of those people I despised in high school who use to say "Yeah I loved Green Day before they got big and everyone started liking them." You know secretly they were still listening to Green Day in their cars and at home, maybe they just weren't lining up for concert tickets the minute they went on sale.

Perhaps one day I'll have enough time to travel around the country and experience more of our country's craft beer culture. I'm sure I'll be writing about it when it happens. Until then, there's not much to be said.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Few Quick Beer Notes - Kern River Citra DIPA, Malheur, and Sly Fox

2 kegs of Kern River Citra DIPA made their way down south recently and this was my first chance to try it while I was at O'Brien's. The keg had just tapped, so although it is unfiltered, it was probably a bit more cloudy than when normally settled. I was surprised how much this tasted like a "imperial" Blind Pig, if you will. That's a good thing, but what was even better was how much more of a mango flavor this beer had. The mango frutiness of the Pig is my favorite aspect about it.

O'Brien's just also recently had their U.S. Malheur launch party, featuring the 10 and 12 (a tripel and quad I presume you can call them). I tried the 10 and it turned out to be a fairly nice tasting tripel. I've strayed so far away from Belgian-brewed Belgian ales lately that I don't have a lot to say about them. This one was big and phenolic, definitely strong in terms of alcohol, noticeably so, but not a fire breather.

My friend Adam just got back from PA and brought back some Sly Fox. I've had the Pikeland Pils before and I'd say it's my second favorite pilsner behind the unbeatable awesome Moonlight Reality Czeck (yes they spell it czecK). I like this beer so much its on my regular Summer trade list. I plan to obtain some more as these hot months roll around.

The Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale was a new one to me. Not sure how old it was, but I'm guessing fairly fresh because it had a date on the bottom of the can of 6/2010, so I'm guessing that was a "drink-by" date. This was more grainy pale ale. Not really assertively hoppy, a bit of the usual crystal/caramel malt and graininess. Tasty, easy drinking brew. Don't be expecting Sierra Nevada Pale Ale hoppiness or anything.

Oh and a new batch of Sculpin is out.... that's always news. Ballast Point's Old Grove location is expanding, meaning they're gonna be making a whole lot more Sculpin, and per the people at Ballast Point, they're going to focus on meeting the demand in San Diego first. Bravo. Highly demanded product that the brewers have decided to take care of their local people with before meeting outside demand.... 2 thumbs up.