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
Ω) present a variety of styles, with attention to the season, and do both classic styles and offbeat beers
TripleDeke) In general, bigger beers for bigger games
And we're off...
December 1 - ACC Championship, Georgia Tech 8:00 p.m. -
Bittersweet is such a good theme to use this week. We get to see a return to the ACC Championship (only the second trip since it started in 2005) following a loss, we found out we are parting with a coach we knew was going to leave but transformed our defense from one of the worst in the FBS to one of the best. It feels good to be a fan of a 10-2 team, but we also hoped for a bit more. I'm bitter that we missed so many ACC Championship games the last few years but getting here is pretty sweet.
Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. Oh yes, oh yes. This is a big brew for a big game. I first tried this beer way back in March of 2012 and was blown away, it is probably my favorite beer I've had in the last year. It is like a hybrid between a traditional Imperial IPA (big and hoppy), an Imperial Red (a little toasty malty), and a Rye IPA (a little spicy), all blasted together with a touch of Barleywine (a bit sweet). There is so much ridiculous goodness going on in this brew. It is appropriate for a celebratory game, and an ending to a bittersweet (though mostly sweet) regular season.
Schmaltz Brewing Company is an interesting brewery out of both San Francisco and New York, with two major brands of beers: Coney Island (Lagers) and He'Brew (Ales). They are generally affordable and also quite creative brews and carry with them a great deal of marketing ‘shtick'. I'm a fan of much of what they do, for the mere sake that they are doing it very creatively, though I'm not always a huge fan of the end result. Seriously, how many breweries incorporate pomegranates in a beer? It's worth a shot, right? But with this one, a beer brewed in tribute to late comedic genius Lenny Bruce, they have hit an absolute home run.
Against the Grain:
In this series, we've talked about IPAs and Barleywines, and about hops and barley malt, but haven't touched on grain adjuncts, so I guess I'll say a little about those this week. Beer is mostly made from malted barley, but this particular grain can be complemented in brewing with a host of other grains, either in malted, gelatinized (pulverized, cooked, and dried), or un-malted form. The main ones, and the property they add to a beer, are as follows:
-Wheat: The most common adjunct/other grain used in beer, with some beers having as much as 70% wheat in them. Wheat adds a lighter body and effervescent feel, along with a unique flavor compared with that of barley.
-Oats: Add little flavor, but cause the beer to have a creamy taste and promote a bigger head. Oats are popular for use in stouts and other big bodied beers for this reason.
-Corn: Add a lighter body, will impart a corn flavor if used in large amounts - also a typical additive in Light American Lagers. You don't see a lot of craft brews using corn, but it could be the next big thing... who knows?
- Rice: Adds a light body but no real flavor to speak of. Just like corn, it is often used in big batch , light brews. You do see a number of craft brews using rice these days, especially in Asian-themed beers.
- Sorghum: A grain that is not all that popular but used in gluten-free brewing.
- Rye: I wrote all this to get you here. Rye is one of the most interesting adjuncts and most widely experimented with in craft brewing outside of wheat and oats. Rye adds a spicy, distinctive rye flavor to beer (think of rye bread). There are a number of classic styles that can be fine-tuned and possibly improved upon with the addition of a little (or a lot of) rye. Rye IPAs have become a big thing these days, as the spice from the grain works quite well with the citrus, pine, and floral notes in a hoppy brew.
If you see these grains listed on the bottle, now you know what to look for in the taste. Try to think about what the brewer meant to bring to the table if one of these is in your beer.
The game day brew:
And now the brew. Bittersweet Lenny's is a solid all-around beer. It pours a dark golden brown with a solid head. It smells of pine and citrus, like a typical Imperial IPA. It tastes delicious, sweet, bitter, spicy, slightly buttery, and clean. Seriously, read ‘The Bros' review at Beer Advocate, because they do it justice better than I could. I never would have thought of ‘cake batter' as a component of the flavor, but sure enough, that description works (just as part of the flavor, in the background), and come to think of it, it's probably pound cake batter I taste.
Alternate Brews - If you lean sweet, try Schmaltz's 16th Anniversary Jewbilation Ale. Their 15th was a syrupy brew similar to an Old Ale. If you like something lighter, try the Genesis, a very solid session ale that is fairly dry and has a nice malty profile and a good bit of bitterness. If you want a hoppy beer, try the Hop Manna. Nothing in their line-up is bad, though I do prefer some to others, and as I'm not a big lager drinker, can't recommend anything from the Coney Island line.
What I'll (probably) Be Drinking Saturday - Bittersweet Lenny's, Green Flash Le Freak (never opened it last week), New Holland Dragon's Milk, and homebrews.
What about you? What are your thoughts on Rye IPA, and what is your favorite? What will you drink this week?
Previously reviewed brews: