Daily beer project

Bass Ale & Baja Especial

Posted in Imports, Moab Brewery, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on May 11, 2010

Bass is an iconic beer brand, laying claim to being the original pale ale and also to being awarded England’s first trademark. It’s such an icon, in fact, that the Bass Brewery was acquired by Anheuser Busch (AB-InBev) in 2000. It is not what you would call a craft beer.

It is, however, a very good beer. In fact it’s an awesome beer. Quite likely my favorite pale ale I’ve tried so far. The malt has a very toasty, rich flavor to it, and the hops are just up to the very limit of what I like without being too hoppy or too bitter. It’s smooth and satisfying, a beer to be savored rather than pounded. It’s a great choice if I’m just going to have one beer to unwind at the end of the day.

Baja Especial is a local beer that I tried on tap Saturday night at Porcupine, bringing me one beer closer to wrapping up phase 2 of this project. Sort of. Baja Especial is brewed by Park City Brewing Company, which also makes Park City Steamer and is affiliated with Moab Brewery. I figured all the beers were coming from Moab Brewery. In Moab. They’re not. A look at the packaging for their bottled beers in stores reveals “Moab Brewery/Park City Brewing Company, Belgrade, MONTANA” A few minutes of google searching reveals that Madison River Brewing is also a contract brewer that makes beer for the Moab/Park City labels. They ship a truck of beer to Utah every two weeks. My objective with phase two was to sample every beer made in the state, not to sample every beer distributed in the state. So I’ll probably grab a six pack of Scorpion Amber Ale sometime, but I’m not going to worry about going to Moab Brewery so I can make sure and try every single beer they offer. Unless I happen to be in Moab, in which case I will probably still go sample every beer they offer.

Anyway, on to the review of this beer. It’s described as a Mexican-style lager, which suggests something like Tecate or Corona. Negra Modelo is also a Mexican lager, but it’s not a typical Mexican lager like its sister, Modelo Especial. I would think most brewers would set their sights a little higher than a typical Mexican lager, but those beers have their fans, so I can see the appeal from a marketing standpoint. Baja Especial does a good job of fitting the style while also making an excellent beer. It really is awesome stuff.

Typical of Mexican beers, it was served with a lime wedge on the edge of the glass. I didn’t squeeze the lime into the beer at first, wanting to see how it tasted on its own. It’s an easy-to-drink lager, smooth going down, with very little hops. It was served cold, and with this style, the colder the better. I found it better and more satisfying than the other Mexican lagers I’ve tried, so I guess style doesn’t need to constrain quality. For the last bit left in my glass, I squeezed in some lime, just to see how it tasted. It was better without it. I’m yet to have a really good beer that’s made better with the addition of citrus. If the brewer is doing his job, it’s totally unnecessary.


Park City Steamer

Posted in American Craft Beer, Moab Brewery, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on April 29, 2010

Park City Steamer is served at Porcupine, and is listed under the Moab Brewery/Park City Brewery heading on their beer menu. Confusingly, Park City Steamer doesn’t feature on the Moab Brewery website, but if you search for Park City Steamer on Beer Advocate, it indicates that the beer does in fact come from Moab Brewery. I’m guessing that the beers listed on Moab Brewery’s website may be out of date.

Regardless of its provenance, this beer is awesome. It’s a medium brown color, about the same as the Red Rock nut brown ale and it has a nice bite to it right from the outset. It’s got a typical one-finger head that leaves quite a bit of lacing on the glass, and the beer itself is perhaps a bit on the bubbly side, in a good way. One of my new favorites, and definitely something I’ll order again.

Steam beer originated in California in the mid 1800’s out of necessity more than anything else, and was originally considered poor quality. It’s fermented with lager yeast but at room temperature, like an ale, presumably because while lager yeast was readily available, refrigeration was not.

Modern steam beer is properly known as California common beer since Anchor Brewing Company trademarked the name steam beer for their Anchor Steam Beer. Interestingly, Uinta’s Gelande Amber Lager has received medals in the California common beer category at the North American Beer Awards in 2006, 2007, and 2009. Previously this same beer has been submitted and medaled as a Marzen and a Munich-style lager in 2000 and 2003, respectively. Whether this is because the recipe has changed such that the style of the beer has drifted or because there are no hard and fast rules as to what style a specific beer belongs in, I don’t know. I also don’t know whether Gelande is fermented at room temperature, since no mention is made on Uinta’s website.

Perhaps worth noting is that although I liked the Gelande, I liked the Park City Steamer quite a bit more. Given Gelande’s numerous accolades, I’m not sure what that says about my beer judging credentials, but again, as a beer drinker, your own preference is the only one that matters.