Daily beer project

Peter’s brand lager

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on September 28, 2010

This is labeled a Dutch-style Pilsner lager, and it comes in a pint can. It’s on the malty side, similar to a Belgian ale. The malt is caramel and rich for its golden color, with less sour than other imported lagers. I wasn’t blown away by it, but it was good enough that I’d gladly have it again.

Just for grins, I poured some over vanilla ice cream for a float. The Bayou serves floats made with Guiness, which I think would be a little better. But this was still tasty, albeit more as a novelty than a legitimate dessert.

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Wyoming

Posted in American Craft Beer, Utah Beer, Wasatch Beers by dailybeerproject on September 17, 2010

Recently found myself sitting at the Mangy Moose in Teton Village with a good deal of thirst from a little bicycle ride. Nothing like a couple of brews served in 20 ounce glasses to take care of that problem.

Snake River Brewing OB-1: This is an organic brown ale, and a good but not awesome one. I liked it well enough, but all the made-in-Wyoming beer I’ve tried so far has left me a little wanting in the hops department. Maybe cowboys don’t like hoppy beers, I don’t know. It’s reasonably balanced with a pleasant-tasting malt, I just would have liked a little more to it.

Deschutes Brewing Bachelor ESB: Had this right after the OB-1, and it righted everything that was wrong with the previous beer. Granted they’re different styles, I just like this style and this beer better. Nice medium malt with a substantial but not overpowering hop presence, this is just awesome beer. Versatile, too. It was great when I was just really thirsty, but there’s enough to it that it would go well with a meal.

After cooling off from the bike ride, I had a nice steak with two more beers accompanying it.

Snake River Pale Ale: With the OB-1 being good but not great, I decided to try Snake River’s pale ale to see if a style of beer I like better would be more to my liking. Unfortunately, it was not. Very much on the weak end of pale ales in terms of both malt flavor and especially hop presence, this is a beer I had no trouble drinking, I would just have trouble convincing myself to pay for another one.

Deschutes Inversion IPA: Again I followed the Snake River offering with one from Deschutes. And again, I came away impressed with Deschutes. Their Inversion IPA is awesome. It’s fairly potent at 6.8% abv, but it’s in no way overpowering. They’ve really dialed in the hops on this one, and I’m hopeful that, like the Mirror Pond, it’s available at the local liquor store. Thoroughly enjoyed this beer–a great finish to a great day.

In addition to the beers I drank while there, I was also able to stock up on Dale’s Pale Ale in Wyoming. All beer should come in cans, and all beer should be this good. I’ve also sampled a few more since that I’ll mention while I’m at it.

Wasatch Summerbrau Lager: This is a beer whose brand manager can’t seem to decide how to describe it and therefore didn’t. From the Wasatch Beers website: “Wasatch Summerbrau Lager is a…Czech-style pilsner-lager. Our German style lager…” Is it Czech, or is it German? I’ll go with German just because a good Czech Pilsner has more hops than this. It’s got a pleasantly sour malt, which is great for summer, as it’s reminiscent of lemonade. Hops are noticeable but not particularly strong. Overall a good summer beer that would be nice with chips and salsa while you wait for the coals to be ready to barbecue.

Session Black Lager: I’ve said this before, but I don’t think the Full Sail brewery makes a bad beer. Session lagers are intended to satisfy everyone, which when the marketers are doing conjoint analysis may seem like a good idea, but could easily turn out to be a disaster. Making everyone happy is a tough proposition. And while I wouldn’t say Session beers are my favorites, they’re good, they’re cheap, and for some reason the distinctive squat bottle shape is appealing. This dark lager would be a great accompaniment to Mexican food. It’s very similar to Negra Modelo, but about half the cost at the local store, so an appealing choice if you’re hosting a party. It’s not something I’ll likely keep in the fridge, but it is something I’ll keep in mind for the right occasions.

Revisiting Stella

Posted in Imports, Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on September 5, 2010

With phase 2 wrapped up and my taste in beer having evolved somewhat in the process, I decided I’d go back and revisit some beers I tried early on to see if my opinion had changed. I already did this with Sierra Nevada, and considering that’s now one of my favorites, it seems worth doing with others.

Stella Artois was a beer I tried early on, and while I didn’t dislike it, I wasn’t crazy about it either. Considering it’s one of my brother’s favorites (may still be top of his list), I decided to revisit it. Glad I did. It’s very much a European, Pilsner-style lager. Belgium is famous for it’s ales, but like most of the rest of the world, lager beer is the majority of consumption. Outside Belgium, Stella is promoted as an international brand, but domestically it’s just another lager and lags behind its sister brand Jupiler in sales. It’s owned by AB Inbev (think Budweiser), so it’s a macrobrew if ever there was one. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

Coming as it does from a big brewery, it’s not surprising that it’s less-hoppy than some other Pilsners. I like the hoppier versions better, but this is still awesome. With less hops, the sourness of the malt comes through a bit more. The sourness takes some getting used to (or at least it did for me), but it has a refreshing, thirst-quenching quality that I enjoy. The downside is that it’s nearly $2 for an 11.2 ounce bottle. Considering there are other beers I like just as well for less, it probably won’t become part of the regular rotation. But certainly something I’d reach for when in the mood for an import.

Desert Edge: completing phase 2

Posted in American Craft Beer, Desert Edge, The Project, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on September 4, 2010

I spent the evening at Desert Edge Brewery to wrap up the last of the Utah-made beers I am yet to try. Or at least those I am committed to trying as part of this project. I gave myself an exemption from seasonals and special releases just because of limited availability. So I’m “finished” with phase 2 at this point, but there are still a lot of seasonals and special releases I’d like to try. In fact, there were two seasonals at Desert Edge (a cream ale and an ESB) that I wanted to try last night but couldn’t. Not to mention, I like cataloging the beers that I’ve tried, so I’ll continue to post. Just not sure if there will be a phase 3 or what it would be.

Happy Valley Hefeweizen: I noticed a lot of pitchers of this being served, which to me suggests that many beer drinkers aren’t very adventurous. Or that a lot of tables were compromising with something everybody would like. Super smooth and easy to drink, with a malt/wheat profile that was creamy and slightly sour and barely any discernible hops. I usually prefer to keep citrus away from my beer, but about halfway through this pint, I squeezed the lemon wedge in and considered it an improvement. This would be a great beer to grab a growler of for a summer barbecue, as I can’t imagine anyone disliking it. Not terribly exciting, but nothing not to like, either. We’ll call it awesome just because I think the brewers did well at making a quality beer of this style, and I’d order it again if I were in the mood for a hefeweizen.

Pub Pils: I’ve grown quite fond of true Pilsner beers of late. I’m not talking about adjunct macrobrews that claim to be Pilsners, but real, golden-colored, well-hopped Pilsners in the vein of Pilsner Urquell. This one really hit the spot. The malt was spot-on. It was hopped just-so. Everything came together in a delicious brew. Definitely an awesome rating for this one. It’s a testament to the quality of our local breweries that both Bohemian and Desert Edge make such excellent Pilsners.

Alt on Cask: One of the things that really impresses me about Desert Edge is the breadth of their seasonal offerings. And indeed, this is one of the reasons that even though phase 2 was “officially” complete with Pub Pils, I’ll keep sampling local seasonals–some of the best beer isn’t available year-round. The only other alt beer I’ve tried was at the beer tasting event that Dave, one of the Desert Edge brewmasters, hosted. The only other cask beer I’ve tried was another Desert Edge offering, English Mild. So it makes sense that the two would come together at this brewery.

Dave mentioned when we tried the Pinkus Munster alt that it was lighter in color than a typical alt. The Desert Edge alt was a deep brown color, a bit darker than a red, but not as dark as a porter. Although I liked the lighter alt a bit better, this one was still excellent with a rich, toasty body and hardly any sourness. It was lightly hopped, and without knowing, I’d guess most of the hopping was in the boil with little if any dry hopping afterward. Overall a very good beer indicative of the breadth of skill of the Desert Edge brew staff.

Summary thoughts on phase 2: I’ve now sampled nearly 100 beers made in the state of Utah. For a state with a population this small, only a fraction of whom actually drink beer, it’s pretty amazing to have this much quality available to us. And we have our quirky liquor laws to thank for it. Without them, it would be easy for restaurants and bars to bring in kegs of Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada, and Rogue. But since nothing over 4% abv can be served on tap, and these out-of-state breweries aren’t interested in making a 4% version of their beers, it’s created a niche that some very capable brewers have stepped in to fill.

With a recent change to the laws allowing “full-strength” beer to be sold (cold even) in bottles directly from the brewery and by restaurants, Epic has stepped in to fill another, even smaller niche by offering bottled beer above 4% abv. The end result of all this is a vibrant market for craft beer that’s on par with Oregon or Colorado or California and exceeds in breadth and quality the craft beer offerings of any other neighboring states.

Critics would be quick to point out “yes, but it’s 4%….” To which I would respond that that’s the same as what you would find in English pubs, and nobody seems to think it’s a problem there. I guess if you’re looking to get drunk and trying to get as much as you can as fast as you can, stronger beer is better. But if you’re interested in sharing a few pints with friends and still being able to walk when you’re done, 4% beer is just fine. The fact that we have so many places offering such good quality beer just makes things that much better.

My objective when I began this project was to come to like beer, any beer, so I could enjoy it socially. My expectation was that I would find one or two that I liked or even tolerated, and that there would be a whole lot of beer I didn’t care for. As I began the project, this was certainly the case. I wasn’t accustomed to the flavors and found much of it overwhelming. BradK predicted I would come to embrace the bitterness, and he was right. I’ve come to appreciate beer and now appreciate virtually every beer style. Which is not to say that I like every beer, but I understand their appeal. I have my favorites, but even then, my preferences have shifted over the last few months. The journey has been remarkable, and both what is available locally as well as what I’ve come to enjoy have exceeded my expectations.