Every once in a while I have a lager and then I remember that I don't like lagers much. You may have noticed this in the reviews set out here. But I have been meaning to try Steam Whistle for sometime to make sure I am not missing something good and local.
Good thing as this is my kind of lager. It pours a medium straw and fades to a white rim. While the body is quite watery - without being thin - there are lots of grainy malt as in a quality pale ale but it is a notch sweeter and rounder. That roundness is accentuated by a creamy lager malt strain with a concession to the style in the metallic hops that cut the cloy. But the hop additions come from a measured hand and there is a freshness to them that compliments the sweet malt rather than fights it. This is the one beer the brewery brews and it is quite worthy.
It would be interesting to see what these folks could do with a pale ale. Oddly - the BAers are brutal with over one third saying no way.
Craig Pinhey, a Maritime writer on beer and other beverages, laments the restrictions on the interprovincial beer trade in Canada.
At one point beer could only be sold in provinces where it was brewed. Although not true anymore, we've not come very far. In New Brunswick, the rules give huge advantages to Atlantic breweries, thanks to pricing agreements. Out-of-province brews are tagged with a premium, so they sacrifice profit to hit the same shelf price. The exception is that local guys, including Moosehead and Labatt Halifax, sell to the liquor boards in each other's province at the preferred price.Craig continues with a litany of trade restrictions that are in place in this country, and calls for a common, national approach to beer, wine and spirits laws. Sounds good to me. Would American readers care to comment on inter-state trade ~ is it pretty much unrestricted? Are there any similar pricing differences/increases for out-of-state beer? Do any other countries have internal beer trade barriers?
I think have asked you all before where you all are. Now you can show it on a map of the Good Beer Blog Nation from Frappr! Click on the "Ad Yourself" link to the right of the Frappr screen. I'll figure out how to run an updating version of this map sooner or later.
Let me know where you are or if there are any other widgets we could add to this space.
I have noticed a few news items like this one on the idea of a ad campaign in the US for beer as a general product:
Anheuser-Busch Cos. is lobbying its competitors to support a marketing campaign that highlights the benefits and social value of what they all produce: beer. Drawing inspiration from campaigns such as "Got Milk?" the nation's largest brewer hopes strengthening beer's image will help the industry beat back a growing appetite for distilled spirits and wine.I have read of two of these sorts of campaigns. According to Pete Brown in his book Man Walks into a Pub there was such a campaign in the UK in 1933. He writes at pages 185 to 186:
The campaign had to raise the status of the product, so that it was important that "drawings of family groups should not depict a lower social order than that of a middle class family." The ads were signed off with the lign "Beer is Best". But surely the best posters, the ones that dais everything that ever needed to be said, were those that ran with a different three-word slogan of genius: "Beer. It's lovely!"I also have a book with a French poster from about 100 years ago saying that when you compare the extrait utile of milk, wine, cider and beer (collectively called the "hygenic beverages") la biere vient immediatment apres le lait. That has certainly always been my experience.
One of my favorite web sites in the whole world is Forgotten New York run by Kevin Walsh who is a fan of all things utilitarian in architecture in the Big Apple. He has changed the way I see any city I visit. Last summer he wrote about a former bar and included the picture to the right:
Remains of a saloon at Pitkin and Powell. How can you tell? From the presence of what may have been a side window, which facilitated takeout! Buckets of beer would be passed out the window, so it wouldn't have to be slopped past bar patrons.I asked for the right to republish it and he was kind enough to say yes. The neat thing about be a small hub in the world of beer knowledge is I got an email from Jackson, proprietor of another great website about beer and I noticed his post on the meaning of "growler":
Brander Matthews wrote about it in Harper’s Magazine in July 1893: "In New York a can brought in filled with beer at a bar-room is called a growler, and the act of sending this can from the private house to the public-house and back is called working the growler".You can click through to Jackson's post to see one of the buckets that might have passed through the window frame above. High neato factor.
I think I have to agree with the politically correct crowd on this one:
Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said it was an ugly, sick and shocking way of encouraging young people into a drinking environment. The look-alike beer was sold in brown glass bottles and had a frothy head when poured. It contained guarana, a Brazilian based energy extract containing caffeine, and tasted like coke. Ms Williams said packaging for the beverage included cartoon characters and the slogan "Even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink".Oh dear. For me, kids should only learn through a process of sticking fingers in glasses of ale held out by uncles when no one is looking that hops are not exactly their thing and that, as a result, adults are in fact weirdos.
It turns out that beer hops contain a unique micronutrient that inhibits cancer-causing enzymes. Hops are plants used in beer to give it aroma, flavor and bitterness. The compound, xanthohumol, was first isolated by researchers with Oregon State University 10 years ago. Initial testing was promising, and now an increasing number of laboratories across the world have begun studying the compound, said Fred Stevens, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry at Oregon State's College of Pharmacy. Earlier this year, a German research journal even devoted an entire issue to xanthohumol, he said. What Stevens and others are discovering is that xanthohumol has several unique effects. Along with inhibiting tumor growth and other enzymes that activate cancer cells, it also helps the body make unhealthy compounds more water-soluble, so they can be excreted.Other recent reviewed hopbombs include Mendocino White Hawk IPA, Wachusett IPA and Great Divide Titan IPA.
Last year I did a side by side of four wittes or wits, Belgian white beers. Here I repeat the inclusion of the elemental wit, Hoegaarden, as a benchmark for comparison with the white in the middle from Allagash, a micro from Maine focusing on Belgian beers, and Blue Moon, which is actually produced by the new now US mega macro called Molson Coors.
- Hoegaarden: My notes on the Hoegaarden from 17 months ago are not very helpful. I must have learned something about describing beer. It is cloudy and light lemon-straw coloured with a white rim. There is some carbonation but in the mouth there is a watery and flat aspect to the body that is moreish rather than dead. There is plenty of corriander that is more green than spicy. There is also a good measure of citrus which is orangy but not in the chewy way that goldings can make an IPA orangey. I am looking forward to pouring half a bottle in some Thai shrimp tonight. This is a standard as befits the fact that its revival in the 60s preserved the style.
- Blue Moon: Click on the picture to the right. As you can see Blue Moon on the right is much darker much more active and, when I opened it, I was struck by how much more floral or perfumey its aroma was. I am not intensely fond of this beer. There is an aspect to it that I find forced or even slightly chemical in nature. To be clear it is no way near as offensive as the Brussels White I tried in June 2004, one of the worst beers I have ever tried and Coors should be praised for keeping the style in its roster. But it is not an A-lister and, frankly, how long is your life going to be? It does share the watery aspect that I think is an important element of the style and also has a nice strongly orangey component. It is on the hops alone where I think this beer falls down. Belgian hops are often allowed to sit for a long time before use. This drives much of the green and acid sharpness from them leaving something of a shadow presence in the ale. If Blue Moon were to have this more recessive hop characteristic I think I would like it better.
- Allagash Wit: I brought a 750 ml wiretop of this back from our summer trip to Maine. Allagash in Portland is New England's only Belgian brewer as far as I can tell. It is slightly darker and bigger than Hoegaarden but very similar in style. It is cloudy a bit less carbonated and carries a big mousse head. There is a notch more richness and even a little creaminess in the glass. More orangely, too, with a nice green note in the middle that is not particularly corrianderish - maybe even passion fruit and nutmeg. There is also a dryness to the finish. Very attractive.
What can you say about a beer that says so much about itself. I picked this one out of the stash, $5.99 USD last time I was south. It is a one off brew made in August 2004 from Stone of a previous standard of theirs called Lee's Mild...which makes it more of a revival than a one off. At 7.8% I am wondering where I will find the mild in it but these things do happen sometimes.
Mild is generally the lightest of the dark ales - below porter, sub-dark and under brown. Big in, say, Wales circa 1910, milds are now rare. They also were a bit of an innovation when they came out as they were a break from stales or beers that had attractive sour tang to them. The idea of an actually sterile and fresh to the consumer beer was very 19th century industrial revolution. I think the only true one I have had - other than those I brewed myself - was at C'est What in Toronto last winter. The perfect session ale. But that one was only 3.3%...or 42% the strength of this one of Lee's. So what will this bottle provide when opened. The BAers give great hope. More in a moment when I get the danged thing open.
It pours a really attractive reddish mahogany with a rich and lace leaving tan head. Good and black rummy - sweetness worked through and dried. Masses of malt with notes of fig, date and pumpernickle with a good swath of green and twiggy hops cutting but not severing betwixt and between. It is just a notch below an old ale or something that might come out for Christmas but not by much. A long long finish. Another impressive big ale from one of the great US brewers.