Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

08 October, 2015

Drinker Easy With the Beer That Really Fits You: Kölsch from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Woodman's East is doing its level best to rid itself of Sierra Nevada's summer beers. The brewery's summer variety packs have been callously riven asunder so that the bottles within can be sold individually. (Perhaps tellingly, their Oktoberfest was getting the same treatment.) I've already tried the variety pack's Nooner Pilsner and now it's time to investigate the Kölsch-style brew.

Ah, the Kölsch. The official bier of Köln (Cologne), Germany. From what I've read, the Kölsch as we know and love it today originated in the early 20th century. It's a light beer brewed with a top fermenting yeast but fermented at temperature slightly lower than normal for an ale. It is also lagered, i.e. – stored for a few weeks at cold temperatures. The appellation "Kölsch" is protected and defined by the Kölsch Convention which states that, if it ain't brewed in Köln, it ain't a Kölsch.

The beer's ale-lager hybridization seems to stem from both Köln's 17th century Reinheitsgebot laws which banned bottom-fermented beer and the rise in popularity of the very same. Hence the beer has one foot in each world.

Sierra Nevada's take on the style pours a lovely light straw color and is as clear as the day is long. I got a fine, fluffy white head in my stange that would not quit. There's wheat in the beer and I do believe that there are proteins in wheat which help keep the head on your beer longer. It is my understanding that wheat is not a common ingredient in the Kölsch over in the Fatherland. My stange had a modicum of bubbles making their way up.

The aroma was at once familiar and inviting yet also novel and intriguing. As expected it had that light cracker smell as well as the distinctive fruitiness from the yeast which comes across to my nose as being a berry-apple hybrid. I was not expecting, however, the piney hop notes to be accompanied by floral and citrus ones. I presume the floral ones come from the Strisselspalt hops which I'm seeing used more often as of late, while Simcoe provided more the citrus notes.

The beer's taste just smacked of summer. It had a light body that never tasted thin. It yielded a clean cracker taste with the apple-berry yeast flavors from the aroma making a return engagement. The carbonation added some dryness and the beer had a moderate bubbly taste. The novel floral hoppiness was present on the tongue as well with no small amount of pungent flavor and paired nicely with more subtle citrus ones.

On the finish the beer proved moderately dry with more bite from the carbonation and some peppery hop bitterness joining its floral cousin. My stange was left with a goodly amount of Schaumhaftvermoegen in thick webs.

Sierra Nevada has done themselves proud with Kölsch. The floral and fruity hop aromas and flavors add a nice new twist without overshadowing the traditional grain and yeast elements. Carbonation and some more traditional German hop bitterness gave the beer some bite. On the other hand, the clean, crisp malt flavors and the floral & citrus hops made for a brisk, fresh adventure on the palate. At 5% A.B.V. the beer is deceptively quaffable so it's best drunk from the traditional stange.

I've not drank much Sierra Nevada the past several years until quite recently. I used to drink their Pale Ale quite frequently back in the early and mid-1990s and still do occasionally when it's the least hoppy offering at a party. But their recent takes on German styles have been quite impressive and I'll definitely be giving them a second look.

Junk food pairing: Pair Kölsch with Cheez-It Zingz Chipotle Cheddar. They're made with corn masa flour for authentic Mexican Crunch™ and the subtle smokiness makes for a nice counterpoint to the cheesiness of the underlying cracker and contrives to sublimate the fundamental botanical-grain dichotomy of the Kölsch.

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07 October, 2015

When It's Cold Outside and You Want to Drink In: Afterburner by Metropolitan Brewing

Chicago's Metropolitan Brewing began distributing here in Wisconsin this past spring which means I can enjoy their beers more often instead of having to wait for trips down south. Co-founders Tracy and Doug Hurst are both from Wisconsin: she from the Milwaukee suburb of Greenfield and he from right here in Madison. Doug attended the UW and took the infamous Plants and Man course where you can brew beer in lieu of writing a paper. A roommate of mine in college took this class and brewing the beer became a project involving everyone in the house and my first involvement in the production of the sweet, sweet nectar.

Metropolitan opened in 2008 and has been forging its own path ever since. Perhaps because of the Hurst's Wisconsin upbringing (and hence exposure to breweries such as Capital and Sprecher) as well as the time Doug spent in Germany learning his trade, the fateful decision was made to brew lagers with no concessions to the preternatural preoccupation with hops. I met Tracy earlier this year when she was in town introducing drinkers to her beer and instead of boasting about a brotastic cascade of citrus hop flavors, she emphasized the comity between malt and hops.

The brewery currently has three annuals along with six seasonals. Afterburner is Metro's Oktoberfest that is released in September (instead of July). I'm not sure when Metropolitan began brewing it but I do believe that it was draught-only early in its life and was first bottled in 2013.

Afterburner is a beauty of a beer, eh? It is a lovely light copper and clear. My pour produced about ¼" of loose, off white head that dissipated fairly quickly. Either that or I spent a long time trying to get a decent photograph. Surprising to me was that there were only a few stray bubbles going up. This beer appeared almost still. The aroma was full of malty goodness. There were biscuity notes but also some sweeter ones that were akin to figs and a hint of caramel too. My nose also caught just a hint of spicy hops.

The beer's medium body was replete with a great combination of malt flavors. As was expected, there were bread/biscuit tastes along with some stonefruity sweetness. As Afterburner's copper color let on, there was also a welcome roasted grain flavor that was like well-done toast. It had a bit of nuttiness to it as well. Lurking underneath the malty mélange was a bit of peppery hop in addition to a little dry bite from the carbonation.

The clean malts gave way at the finish to a moderate dryness from both the carbonation and some mild spicy/peppery hop bitterness. My glass was left with just a little Schaumhaftvermoegen towards the top.

Afterburner is perhaps the very model of a modern Märzen beer. The clean maltiness is spearheaded by bread and biscuit flavors but bolstered by a touch of sweetness and the nutty taste of roasted grain. This winning combination is kept together by the hops which never seek to overpower, only to complement. I can't find any info on the ingredients so I don't know what kinds of hops were used nor if German malts are in the recipe. Afterburner is 6.1% A.B.V. so it is perfect for chilly October evenings.

Junk food pairing: Deep-fried cheese curds. I cannot even begin to describe the depths of malt gluttony you will wallow in when eating deep-fried cheese curds with your Afterburner.

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06 October, 2015

"O'zapft is" In a Can: Oktoberfest by Bull Falls Brewery

Another Oktoberfest review and today’s victim, er, exemplar comes from Bull Falls Brewery in Wausau. A newcomer to the Madison market, the brewery was established in 2007 by brewmaster Mike Zamzow and his father Don who named the brewery after the city's original appellation, "Big Bull Falls". This name referred to a stretch of rapids on the Wisconsin River which flows through town. 2013 proved an auspicious year for Bull Falls as the brewery completed a $1.5 million expansion and gained wider distribution. Cans of their brews finally hit store shelves here in Madison this past summer.

Bull Falls has a fairly traditional line-up of English and German styles. There's nothing extreme nor very much that would send Reinheitsgebot purists ducking for cover. Five Star Ale, an amber ale is the biggest seller while Hop Worthy IPA and a bourbon barrel stout seem to be concessions to current trends. Yet Zamzow's first beer for the brewery was Oktoberfest and the first beer brewed in the new expanded brewhouse a couple of years ago was Oktoberfest. According to Robin Shepard Zamzow brews his Oktoberfest using a German (continental?) brewing technique called decoction mashing which involves taking some of the mash (i.e. – the admixture of grains and water) and boiling it in a separate vessel for a time before returning it from the kettle from which it came. Shepard maintains that the process "accentuates the smooth malty flavors in the finished beer".

I'd heard that decoction mashing is what gives German beers that melanoidin/Maillard reaction flavor which I think of as being a bit like bread crust or lightly toasted bread. It's grainy but not sweet; it's rich yet not cloying. Having spoken with some brewers and read more accounts on the Interwebs it seems that American brewers are split. Some think decoction is what gives that flavor while others think it's the malt varieties. One of the great mysteries of our time.

Bull Falls' Oktoberfest pours a lovely deep gold color. It is as clear as the day is long. My pour produced about one inch of foamy off-white head. There were a few bubbles making their way upwards from the bottom of the glass. The beer looked so pretty and I just couldn't wait to breathe in its aromatic goodness. I found that there were the expected and most welcome bread and yeast aromas but there was also the smell of metal. It wasn't ferric to my nose and it also wasn't overpowering. I held out hope that this off smell didn't make it into the taste.

Thankfully it did not and my tongue was instead greeted by some fine, clean malt flavor, delightfully decocted. There was the bread as on the nose but also an earthy sweetness like fig or date. A touch of carbonation on the tip of my tongue and a pleasant bit of herbal & spicy hop bitterness did their level best to balance the malt but it was not to be. Still, they provided some nice contrast. It had a smooth medium body instead of leaning onto the thin side as had Lazy Monk's Oktoberfest earlier that day.

It finished with a bit of that stonefruity sweetness lingering along with a mild herbal bitterness. I have to admit that I have really enjoyed all the herbal hop flavors in these Oktoberfests the past several days. My glass had a nice ring of Schaumhaftvermoegen towards the top where the head had given way to the beer but nothing beneath it. Harumph.

Bull Falls' Oktoberfest is a solid brew. It looks gorgeous with its golden hue and ample foamy head. Any dirndl-clad maiden would be proud to be seen serving it. It tastes great too. I loved the decocted bready malt flavors. The beer also had a moderate malt sweetness which was fine but I prefer less. I will also admit to thoroughly enjoying the herbal hop flavor here after the more spicy flavors in the pilsners I'd been drinking previous to the Oktoberfest binge.

Junk food pairing: As has been noted here previously, deep fried cheese curds are the sine non qua of any Oktoberfest drinking session. Well, after the beer itself, that is. The salt accentuates the smooth malty flavors of the beer perfectly. And there's cheese involved too.

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05 October, 2015

Thank You For Our Daily Liquid Bread: Oktoberfest by Lazy Monk Brewing

I spent some time over the weekend at Stalzy's Deli's Oktoberfest celebration which featured an abundance of both domestic and imported Oktoberfest beers as well as a curious excess of Anglo folk and country-flavored music. Having spent time quaffing Oktoberfests or autumnal beers from Karben4 (Oaktober Ale was a bit heavy-handed on the oak but still good), Summit (sprightly and bubbly – the champagne of festbiers), Schell's (a bit less malty than I'm used to yet very tasty), Next Door Brewing (NextDoorberfest ale was earthy/nutty with a vinuous element to boot), Paulaner, und Hofbräu (classic step-mashed {?}, melanoidin goodness), one would think that I'd have reached peak Märzen and needed a bumptious pale ale to recover from malt madness. Nein!

Lazy Monk Brewing opened up in Eau Claire about four years ago. The brewery was founded by Leos Frank, a native of The Czech Republic who began homebrewing when he discovered a dearth of Czech-style beers in his adopted homeland. The brewery flies under the Wisconsin craft beer radar as it has limited distribution and Frank focuses on malty lagers instead of hoppy pale ales, although they do have a couple of IPAs. To the best of my knowledge Lazy Monk began distributing outside of the Chippewa Valley only last year. Still, business is apparently good as the brewery will be moving to a new location in Eau Claire next year.

I was at the brewery a couple of months ago and rather impressed at how they took an industrial space and had transformed it into a fair simulacrum of what I think a Central European tavern would look like. Mr. Frank was even behind the bar. The Dulcinea and I enjoyed a flight before delving into a couple pints. Even I must declare the Rye IPA to be the finest in Eau Claire.

Mr. Frank's Oktoberfest was a beautiful gold and crystal clear. Unlike my last Oktoberfest, I managed to get a nice head with about an inch of creamy off-white foam in my glass that lingered for a while. There were a few stray bubbles going up my glass. The aroma was full of bready scents as I expected but there was also a modicum of sweetness to it that was like honey and apricots. I could smell no hops but admit that I had a slightly stuffy nose no doubt because of the transition to autumn.

While the hops may have been absent from the nose, they were certainly present on my tongue after taking a sip. They had a moderately strong herbal/peppery flavor which complemented the clean bread and bread crust flavors of the malt. I tasted little carbonation and also found little sweetness which was rather surprising given the sweetness in the aroma.

It finished fairly dry with that herbal hop bitterness lingering for a short time. I think the carbonation added a just little bite here as well.

The beer was a bit hoppier than I'm used to for the style but I suspect this is simply because the malt flavors here were rather subdued. I appreciated the bready flavors along with the absence of sweetness but the beer simply tasted a little watery. The rich malt flavors were rather more in the background than is to my taste. Because of this the beer had a medium-light body instead of one a little heavier which is what I'd expect. This medium-light body coupled with hops that are more herbal than spicy also makes the beer a bit more easy-drinking than a typical Oktoberfest. My can went down like a helles.

This is by no means a bad beer – the malt was very tasty and I really enjoyed the mellower/more herbal hops. It just lacks the fullness I expect from the style.

Junk food pairing: As I have determined previously (thanks Curd Girl!), deep-fried cheese curds are the junk food pairing par excellence for the Oktoberfest. The salt really throws the wonderful bready malt flavors into sharp relief.

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04 October, 2015

Just Say Yes to Oktoberfest: Oktoberfest by Sierra Nevada und Brauhaus Riegele

The folks at Sierra Nevada have set themselves "on a mission to explore the roots of Germany’s festival beers" and so they will be pairing up with a different German brewer each year to brew an Oktoberfest. For the inaugural batch Sierra Nevada has collaborated with Brauhaus Riegele in Augsburg. Brauhaus Riegele was established some time ago. Indeed, at the time in 1386, the last white person to step foot on the North American continent was Leif Erikson.

About 150 years after Brauhaus Riegele came into existence the Märzen-Oktoberfestbier also came into existence. Bavaria introduced laws on at least two separate occasions in the 16th century regulating the brewing of beer during summer months. The first law or laws were put on the books in 1539 followed by a decree in 1553 which declared that beer could only be brewed from 29 September through 23 April. I'm not sure how the decree of 1553 differed from the laws on the books in 1539 nor am I exactly sure why the laws were enacted in the first place.

Some sources say brew kettle fires were too frequent in the summer months and so brewing was relegated to the other seasons during which the medieval Bavarian version of Smokey the Bear declared the fire risk to be low. Personally I think this is apocryphal. Methinks it's one of those goofy myths concerning the Middle Ages just like that one portraying medieval people as being too dumb to find potable water and so they drank beer and wine all day, every day.

More likely is the other explanation I've come across which is simply that beer spoiled in the summer's heat.

Regardless, a 16th century text refers to beer called the "Merzen" ("March") or "Sommer Byer" ("summer beer"). Brewers spent the final weeks of winter/earliest weeks of spring brewing beers that would spend months in either cellars or caves lagering away until the warmer weather hit when they'd emerge from their hibernation.

The ur-Märzens were dark beers and surely consumed during fall festivals. In the 1840s the style got a bit lighter as brewers, including Spaten's Gabriel Sedlmayr, began experimenting with new paler malts. In 1871 Spaten re-darkened the beer a bit and gave it the appellation Oktoberfestbier that we know today. There are six breweries in Munich that get to use the "Oktoberfest" appellation. Everyone else has to use Oktoberfest-style or Märzen. By the early 20th century the Oktoberfest was once again a dark beer. At some point in the 1990s the beer was considerably lightened but this version of the venerable style seems to be available at the Oktoberfest grounds exclusively. However, Paulaner did export some of the lighter brew to the States a couple years ago as Oktoberfest Wiesn.

As for how the taste of Märzens have changed over the years, I'm not sure. Ur-Märzens must have been smoky owing to malting practices in the Middle Ages. I'm sure they had a fair amount of hops in them as well to help them keep over the summer months but the hop flavors must have faded considerably by the autumn. My guess is that the style has always been malt-forward and was probably rather sweet until fairly recently. From what I can tell, American brewers today tend towards an amber-colored brew that is malty and often rather sweet. Some breweries, including Milwaukee Brewing Co., have opted to load their version of the styleup with hops.

Let's see how the Sierra Nevada/Brauhaus Riegele collaboration turned out. (Finally!)

It pours a light gold color – much more in line with Paulaner Wiesn instead of the more common amber color of American takes on the style. The beer was clear and my pour produced no head, which I found odd. Think of photos of dirndl-clad maidens carrying kurgs of bier at Oktoberfest. All the krugs have nice heads on them. I'd have thought the use of German Steffi malt would have guaranteed a big, foamy head. Must have been my poor pour. Still, the effervescence was evident with all the bubbles forming on the bottom of the glass and going up.

Oooh, the aroma was fine – it was mostly bread with a touch of sweetness in the background that was kind of like bread dough, honey, and/or stonefruit. This boded well for my dream of a malty, melanoidiny, Maillard reactionary barley nectar.

I was not disappointed by the flavor. Beer should be like this year-round. It had a nice medium body imbued with all the clean malty flavors I crave (most of them, anyway) – bread crust, toast, and yeast. While I'm not smart enough to know if I was tasting the bountiful harvest of actual Maillard reactions, I can say that I thought I was because the malt sweetness was quite subdued. Carbonation added a little acidic bite while also abetting the dryness of the spicy hops. This contrapuntal chorus made for a nice, but not overwhelming, contrast to the mellifluous malt backbone.

The beer finished dry with spicy/peppery hop bitterness lingering well after the beer had gone down into the old brooko. Alas and alack, my glass was left just a smidgen of Schaumhaftvermoegen.

Despite this beer being on the foam-challenged side of things, it was simply marvelous. It lacked the sweetness of many domestic Oktoberfests and really emphasized wonderful bready and yeasty flavors. Sierra Nevada says that it was looking to bring the "style back to its authentic roots". I suppose it depends on which roots they're talking about but the German hops and German grains, including the rather rare Steffi malt, certainly produced a fest bier that tastes much more like the Oktoberfests of Munich than most American versions of the style.

This collaboration with Brauhaus Riegele created a great beer that adhered to German tradition. It will be interesting to see with whom they partner next and if tradition will find itself tweaked a bit or perhaps even thrown out the window.

Junk food pairing: I will say it now and will say the same thing for all Oktoberfests: drink this beer with deep-fried cheese curds. There's just something about adding deep fried grains to liquid grains and how a dose of salt just brings all the grainy goodness alive in your mouth. Plus you get fat and cheese that has even more fat.

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30 September, 2015

(After)Nooner Delight: Nooner Pilsner by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Sierra Nevada's Nooner Pilsner is a relatively new addition to the brewery's regular line-up. There was a Nooner Session IPA early in 2014 but that gave way to Nooner Pilsner later that same year.

Nooner is Sierra Nevada's take on the German pilsner. The German pils is, at least as far as American definitions go, a slightly more diminutive take on the style than its Bohemian cousin. It's lighter in color, in body with less hop bitterness and less malt sweetness. I have no doubt people who know more than I will take exception to this definition but I'm going with it.

The German documentary Hopfen und Malz Verloren showed how the big brewing conglomerates in Germany today have watered down the pils over the years. This combined with the fact that I don't know of any German pilsners that are shipped over here with enough celerity to be considered "fresh" on Madison store shelves leads me to concede that I may never have tasted the Platonic idea of a German pils. Here in Madison the Great Dane brewpubs have Verruckte Stadt ("Mad Town"), the Dane's take on the style. I personally like Verruckte Stadt but am not in a position to judge its authenticity.

With these caveats, here's my Nooner pablum.

It pours a slightly dark straw color. No chill haze this time around as Nooner was quite clear. I got about an inch of frothy white foam atop by beer and this head lasted for quite a while. German pilsners are apparently supposed to be quite bubbly and, indeed, Nooner had lots of bubbles making their way up.

This beer was pungent. I could smell it as I shuffled around with my camera trying to get a decent shot. And it smelled F-I-N-E fine. With the glass sitting on the sill it was the malt that I smelled first with its cracker-like scent. Putting the glass to my nose I caught a bit of malt sweetness that was like honey and graham cracker. The hops were also well represented on the nose with grassy notes undergirded by hints of citrus.

Nooner tasted much like it smelled. The cracker malt scent was more like baked bread to my tongue while that honey-like sweetness was more like bread dough. The sweetness was not very pronounced but it was easily discernible. The hops were at first herbal/grassy but there were distinct floral notes too. Looking at Sierra Nevada's page, it seems the floral flavors come from French Strisselspalt hops (and that citrus scent is likely to have come from the German Saphir hops.) I'm not sure that I've ever had a beer with Strisselspalt hops previously. Combined with Saphir, Tettnanger, and Perle, you get this wonderfully piquant mélange of botanical goodness with floral and grassy flavors at the fore of the hop brigade.

Being a lager, Nooner is clean tasting as you'd expect. There's also some dryness with a bit of bite from the carbonation. It finishes quite dry with a grassy/peppery bitterness that lingers for a goodly amount of time. My glass was left with some great Schaumhaftvermoegen all around.

I was going to write that I was impressed with Nooner but that's unfair as it implies a certain set of (low) expectations for the beer that I did not have. I have a lot of respect for Sierra Nevada and drank plenty of their Pale Ale back in the early 90s. Instead I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed Nooner and its mellifluous combination of flavors. The multifaceted hop profile stood out yet always let the malt have its due. With its gentle malts, medium-light body, and hops that showcase their flavors instead of overwhelming everything else, Nooner goes down easy. Mind you, at 5.2% A.B.V. it's not a session beer.

Junk food pairing: Pair Nooner with soft pretzels smothered in melted Velveeta cheese food product mixed with ghost pepper salsa.

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28 September, 2015

Good Morning Campers!: Hoppy Lager by Sierra Nevada

It's autumn now so what better time to drink the last of this year's vernal brews, right?

Sierra Nevada seems to be at the vanguard of collaborative brewing, at least as far as large microbrewers go. Their latest collaboration saw them partner with German brewery Brauhaus Riegele, founded when the most recent white visitor to North America was Leif Erikson, to produce an Oktoberfest. Subsequent iterations of the beer will feature collaborations with different German brewers. Last year Sierra Nevada began Beer Camp Across America which saw them come together with twelve other breweries across the country. Close to home they paired up with New Glarus to produce an ESB called There and Back. Farther afield they conspired with Ballast Point to brew Electric Ray, an India Pale Lager. The beer was brought back for an encore this past spring with a slightly tweaked recipe and a new nom de beer - Hoppy Lager.

I'm not sure who begat the IPL moniker but it's one of the more recent entries in the ongoing marketing atrocity that labels everything with some West Coast hops an India something-or-other. I've noticed the IPX phenomenon attacking cider now. We now have India Pressed Cider and India Wheat Cider because apples just aren't good enough, apparently. And now that winter approaches, you can have your Double IPA lip balm. Too potent for your delicate lips? Don't worry because there's session IPA lip balm too.

While the IPX moniker and the marketing abuse of hops generally (hop cigars, hop shampoo, hop bar soaps, hop air fresheners, and do any locals remember when Madison Sourdough put hops into bread?) have most certainly become a bad joke, that doesn't mean that tasty beers cannot be had with that unfortunate moniker.

Hoppy Lager pours, contra my photograph, a bright gold color. The beer was quite hazy but I suspect this was chill haze – Stone Brewing's blog has a nice explanation. The haze results when malt proteins bond with hop polyphenols at cold temperatures. Going by the blog post, I'd guess that the age of the beer is partly to blame. The haze doesn’t affect flavor and, if I'm going with the age hypothesis, I certainly can't knock Sierra Nevada. You can see the big, foamy white head for yourself. (It lasted a goodly amount of time.) But the haze obscures all of the bubbles going up the beer.

As I've come to expect from this style, the aroma was full of the requisite hoppy scents, i.e. – citrus and floral, from both Citra and Equinox varieties. But the malt was also evident here with the aroma having a very sweet component that smelled of honey and apricot.

Hoppy Lager had an intriguing mix of flavors. As hops go a dull(ish) blood orange or tangerine flavor was the first thing I noticed. A relatively new variety of hops, El Dorado, are used here and descriptions emphasize its big tropical fruit flavors so I'm assuming that they're responsible for the up front fruity flavor. There was also a floral flavor to be had and I presume that came from the Equinox hops. As in the nose, it was subservient to the fruity hop flavors.

Despite being a hop forward brew, the malt made its presence known. It tasted rather sweet to my tongue – reminding me of bread dough. But I also tasted something like plum – a fruitiness that wasn't sharp or bright like citrus. Perhaps this is the malt and the Palisade hops working in combination. The carbonation

The finish was dry with a healthy dose of spicy hops providing a lingering bitterness.

Although it had a clean flavor, Hoppy Lager was just too sweet for me. The malt flavor stood too far apart from and in too great an opposition to the fruity-floral essences of the hops. It's like there were warring factions on my tongue instead of complementary groups working together to find a zymurgylogical gestalt. The high carbonation added a bit of détente by way of dryness but not enough. As someone who is not a big fan of hop forward beers, I found that I didn't mind the 55 I.B.U.s of bitterness here. I think this is likely because of the fruity hop flavor along with the malt that refused to cede to the botanicals.

Junk food pairing: Hoppy Lager is a fairly big beer. The malty sweetness gives it a medium body and it clocks in at 7% A.B.V. Pair it with something sharp-tasting, something that will cut through the IPL miasma such as Snyder's Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces or Cheez-It Duoz Sharp Cheddar and Parmesan crackers.

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