DRAFT PICKS: Cool brew on hot days
First off, class. Let’s talk. It’s hot outside. Very hot. Now I am not your daddy, but ... on days such as these it is far too easy to sip one nice cold beer, then another, then another.
Look, team. A good, cold beer can be so very, very refreshing. But beer, cola drinks, iced coffees and whatever ARE NOT how you hydrate on days like we are experiencing lately.
Water is what you need.
Don’t make the mistake of sipping one too many brews and finding yourself a bit woozy in this heat.
Having said that, let’s talk cold beer.
A regular explorer told me he had just seen a piece on TV in which the presenter noted that all beers — lagers and ales — were best served at 32.5 degrees.
Now to be sure, I did not see the program in question.
But ... that’s awfully cold beer!
So allow me to repeat a few guidelines for serious beer drinking — the style of drinking that makes the most out of every style of brew.
The good folks at RateBeer have produced a simple guide that may help you in getting the most out of your beer. I’ve used this before, but it bears repeating.
In their opening they write:
“The first thing that should be addressed, however, are two very common myths. The first is that beer needs to be served very cold. The macrobrewers want you to believe this, and here’s why.
“The sensation of coldness inhibits the tongue’s taste receptors. Since macrobrews started positioning their products based on any feature they could imagine besides taste, the need to neutralize taste became important.
“As for what beer marketers mean when they say a beer ‘has a cold taste,’ your guess is as good as ours. So no, beer doesn’t not need to be near frozen. Good beer in fact should not be near frozen.
“The other myth is that English beer is served at room temperature, or ‘warm.’ It’s not. It is served at cellar temperature, which is between 12 and 14C. Room temperature is 21C. That’s a big difference.
“Beer is best served in between ‘ice cold’ and room temperature. There are a lot of generalizations made about beers of different colors, most of which are false. However, when it comes to temperature, color seems to make a big difference.
“Lighter-colored beers are generally best served cold. At the warmest end are the big, dark beers like Quadrupels, Imperial Stouts and Barley Wines. At cellar temperature are English-style beers and in the middle is just about everything else.”
Very cold (32-39F): Any beer you don’t actually want to taste: pale lager, malt liquor, Canadian-style golden ale and cream ale, low alcohol, Canadian, American or Scandinavian-style cider.
Cold (39-45F): Hefeweizen, Kristalweizen, Kölsch, premium lager, pilsner, classic German pilsner, fruit beer, brewpub-style golden ale, European strong lager, Berliner weisse, belgian white, American dark lager, sweetened fruit lambics and gueuzes, duvel-types
Cool (45-54F): American pale ale, amber ale, California common, dunkelweizen, sweet stout, stout, dry stout, porter, English-style golden ale, unsweetened fruit lambics and gueuzes, faro, belgian ale, bohemian pilsner, dunkel, dortmunder/helles, vienna, schwarzbier, smoked, altbier, tripel, Irish ale, French or Spanish-style cider
Cellar (54-57F): bitter, premium bitter, brown ale, India pale ale, English pale ale, English strong ale, old ale, saison, Unblended Lambic, Flemish Sour Ale, Bière de Garde, Baltic Porter, Abbey Dubbel, Belgian strong ale, weizen bock, bock, foreign stout, zwickel/keller/landbier, Scottish ale, scotch ale, American strong ale, mild, English-style cider
Warm (57-61F): barley wine, abt/quadrupel, imperial stout, imperial/double IPA, doppelbock, eisbock, mead
Look, you can drink your beer as you most like. If you really want to taste what the brewer meant for you to taste, try beers at the most appropriate temperatures.
And certainly not at 32.5 degrees!
Arbor Brewing Bollywood Blonde
Arbor Brewing Company
Bollywood Blonde is a Belgian Pale Ale that pours a very crisp, clear light amber color with a somewhat wispy off-white head that never develops substantially. Still, the almost coppery color is inviting and promising.
There is a lot of aroma to Bollywood. At first nose, there is sensed a mixture of a very herbal offering — some lemon balm, a strong hint of citrus zests and other mildly exotic smells that blend to give this beer a delicious, almost exciting quality.
With each additional sniff, the explorer is left wondering if there wasn’t a hint of “this” or a touch of “that.” Bollywood is very well blended — and almost a touch confusing it is so wonderfully rich. There is actually just a hint of a malty backdrop.
At first wash, this beer settles almost sweetly on the palate. Then the herbs and spices announce themselves. All that you scented is right up front with the addition of something akin to cinnamon or clove.
This is a very crisp and refreshing brew and the wonderful blend of herbs and spices make it a real good buy on a hot summer day.
The flavors blend so very well together despite being a little jumbled at the start.
The dominant taste returns to the citrus root, with the lemon balm really shouldering the workload.
Don’t get me wrong. This is by no means one of those fruity, shandy brews. Rather, it is finely blended offering up hints and tones of the many really delicious ingredients creating a beer in which the individual parts join to create a better whole.
Incredibly well balanced. Wonderfully refreshing.
The perfect beer for a steamy summer day such as those we’ve been “enjoying” lately.
This is a yummy brew that comes very highly recommended.
I expect we have disagreement as to many of my recommendations, but I don’t suspect too many explorers will debate Bollywood too aggressively.
It’s one of those beers that will appeal to most sippers.
It is simply good ... and then some.
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
North Coast Brewing Co.
Fort Bragg, Calif.
This is the complete opposite of the previous review. While Bollywood was light, delicately spiced and gently bodied, this Russian Imperial Stout is dark, assertively malty and full of muscle.
Old Rasputin is like its namesake — dark and mysterious.
It pours black. No nuances here in color. It’s black and appears thick with an almost syrupy quality although it really isn’t that hefty on the tongue.
There is quite a bit of head — a thick medium tan color that lasts quite a long time and gives you every chance to use the foam in the scenting process. The head sticks around an impressive period of time. Everything about this stout is slow and plodding.
Frankly, the appearance of Old Rasputin is just what one would expect from a Russian stout of this style.
I love the smell of this style brew. It is deep and malty — not much else.
The typical dark coffee and deep dark chocolate scents drift around in the background, but the thick, burnt caramel scent maintains a hold on the nose.
At first swish, there are no surprises.
This is a well-constructed Russian Imperial with a hefty — dare I say manly — maltiness that will appeal to drinkers who appreciate the more assertive stouts. There is a noticeable bitterness and a slightly-felt kick of alcohol back-taste (this is 9 percent ABV, by the way).
I love this stuff.
Old Rasputin is a good, substantial, very full bodied brew, that could easily become a cornerstone Russian Imperial in an explorers collection. I would suggest this may not be the brew to offer someone just starting out. There are less aggressive beers in this genre.
Old Rasputin is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is a beer that is very worthy of a serious sampling, and careful and appreciative consideration.
Highly recommended — with the above qualifications.
A solid stout.