Craft Brew of the Week - Week 8, Miami

I will be profiling a quality craft brew each week prior to the game, one that fits with the theme for the week, because beer and game day are highly complementary. Please don't ‘rec' this post, as I would like them to roll off the front page each week.

My criteria for this list are:

A) use a combination of foreign and domestic beers that are generally available this time of year
2) only high quality beer
D) beers from a variety of U.S. regions for domestics
Pyramid) present a variety of styles, with attention to the season, and do both classic styles and offbeat beers
FMFFM) in general, bigger beers for bigger games

And we're off...

October 20 - Miami 8:30 p.m. -

The Brewery: Great Divide

Selected Beer: Hercules Double IPA

I know, I know, you're saying "Wait, we already did an IPA". True, but that was for USF and we're playing USF South this week, so I figure it's OK to do a very similar brew.

There is a divide between Florida State and Miami and the expanse is widening. Miami has floundered on the recruiting trail the last few years and (allegedly) just a few short years ago, their players were getting paid bounties to headhunt FSU players. Not that we need motivation, Miami is one of the most important of the twelve labors that are the regular season, we must beat them down (you know, like Hercules would do... get it?), but having that tidbit of news about Miami in the last year certainly adds some fuel to the fire.

Great Divide is a great brewery out of Denver, Colorado with nearly national distribution. They feature a number of quality craft beers that are highly regarded, and Hercules is among those.

No side notes this week. Oh, wait, there is one after all, and it's in Haiku form:

While Jimbo and team
Beat the hell out of ‘da U'
We will drink good beer.

Random tidbits:
A) IPAs as a style were developed in Great Britain, where brewers who shipped pale ales to troops in India began adding extra hops, which act as a preservative, so they would better withstand the long period between brewing and consumption. End consumers developed a taste for these bitter brews, and a style was born.
2) Modern brewers like to denote the number of IBUs their IPAs contain on the bottle. ‘IBU's are ‘International Bitterness Units', a standard measurement of hop bitterness used in the brewing industry. Boiling hops causes the acids contained in the hops to isomerize, which in turns causes bitter flavor in the beer. IBUs are an indication of the level of isomerized acids. More hops and longer boil times mean higher IBUs.
d) In an American light lager, IBUs are around 10-15. In a classic blonde ale, IBUs will be around 20. In a pale ale, porter, or stout, they will be 30-40 IBUs, to stand up to the stronger malt flavors. Barleywines will be 60-70 IBUs. IPAs, especially Imperial IPAs, are the big boys and range from 50 IBUs and up, depending on the strength of the ale. Once the IBU level hits about 100, this is the maximum that most people can taste. IBUs can certainly go up from there, but the perceived bitterness of the beer won't change for the drinker. Higher IBUs will affect the mouthfeel of the beer, though - the addition of oils from the hops will impart a smoother feeling.

The game day brew:
The Hercules is a super rich beer, with a nice creamy, dense mouthfeel. It pours a red-gold color with a thick head. The nose is full of pine and floral aromas. On the palate, you are first hit with a caramel taste and buttery feel, but that quickly gives way to the sharpness of the hops, full of pine with a touch of citrus. This beer has 85 IBUs and is beautifully balanced. It is serious business, and not for the Bud Light drinker. It is a Double IPA, but strictly features hops with a very solid caramel malt backbone, which contrasts the Jai Alai we featured earlier this year, where the hops and oak were both profiled handily. For me, this beer is on par with Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA (among others) as a delicious, well-hopped, top of the class IPA.

Alternate Brews: Great Divide nails a number of styles. Their Yeti series (Imperial Stouts done several ways) is to die for if you are a stout fan. The Old Ruffian is a great example of an American Barleywine. Really, you can't go wrong with any of their brews. They know what they are doing.

What I'll (probably) Be Drinking Saturday: The Hercules, Slumbrew My Better Half, Stillwater Farmhouse Ale, Two Brothers 91 Shilling, and, if I make it that far, New Holland Beerhive Tripel. Homebrews will be in the mix as always.

What about you? What are your thoughts on Imperial IPAs and what is your favorite? What will you drink on Saturday?

Previously reviewed brews:

Sept 01 - Murray State 6:00 p.m. (click to review this post)- Stone, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

Sept 08 - Savannah State 6:00 p.m. - Lagunitas, A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

Sept 15 - Wake Forest 12:00 p.m. - Green Flash, Saison Diego

Sept 22 - Clemson 8:00 p.m. - Southern Tier, Backburner Barleywine

Sept 29 - South Florida 6:00 p.m. - Cigar City Brewing, Oak-Aged Jai Alai India Pale Ale

Oct 6 - N.C. State 8:00 p.m. - Nøgne Ø, Imperial Brown Ale

October 13 - Boston College 6:30 p.m. - Samuel Adams, Octoberfest

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