American Craft Beer Week

At least this reflects something positive on the news wires this week! I apologize to Nathan Berrong who writes Eatocracy’s Beer column, “Berrong on Beer” beacause I am stealing a piece out of his column’s headline…. when I think about craft beer or homebrewed beer I have a new phrase to use when offered a “real” beer – I can exclaim, “Ale Yeah!” So this being American Craft Beer Week – thanks to Mr. Berrong and I stand up and shout “Ale Yeah!”

This is a great opportunity to set down your Coors or Bud or other variation of yellow fizzy water and broaden your horizons. The variety of offerings in the craft beer section of the store is very broad.You can take a small step out and go with a Blonde Ale of some sort. You may surprise yourself and find that Amber Ales can be surprisingly easy to drink…..don’t be misled that an amber color equates to “dark” flavors….. Dive a little deeper and try a Brown Ale.

Now there are some lessons to be learned…A Pale Ale can have a very broad spectrum of flavors and aromas. The spectrum is influenced by the varieties of hops and yes by the malts too, yes there are a myriad variety of hops, which lend the beer the bitterness and aromas. The hops are my real focus when sampling Pale Ales. If you are a bit of a geeky numbers person find the IBU designation on Pale Ales. If the number starts creeping north of 40 or so it indicates a more “hoppy” beer. I like the Pale Ales designated as IPA – India Pale Ales – they are higher in both alcohol and bittering – historically made to survive the boat trip to India. The style has survived and thrived. If you didn’t figure it out, I love IPA’s.

The choices for broadening your beer experience include Stouts, Porters, Wheat Beers, Belgian Styles and more. If you see the word “Imperial” in the name be prepared for a higher ABV – Alcohol by Volume. Some can even approach wine levels…10-12% and sometimes more. Then the craft industry is using barrel aged beers and “oh my” the complexity of flavors goes through the roof. Firestone Walker in Paso Robles California has a barrel aged Imperial Stout labeled “Parabola” that is just out of this world….unfortunately it is not sold retail!

From Mr. Berrong’s article here are some suggestions he gleaned from others;

The Brewer’s Association, a not-for-profit trade group that represents small and independent brewers, is the driving force behind ACBW. Below are some tips from them on how to get the most out of this year’s beer week:

• Conduct a craft beer tasting or pairing. • Visit your favorite local brewery, restaurant or tap room and enjoy local craft beers. • Host a tasting at home featuring craft beer from small and independent producers. • Tweet your pride for U.S. craft brewers using the hashtag #ACBW. • Seek out other like-minded folks by attending an official ACBW event. Use the official ACBW events page to find an event in your area. The link below takes you to the full article.

My weekend sampling will include my homebrews – a Pumpkin Ale, Imperial Stout flavored with roasted oak and bourbon, a 4.2% Pale Ale and my share of a batch of Raspberry Wheat Ale. I will also be racking my Father’s Day Ale over into my secondary fermenter this weekend. I will look to local beers to add to the weekend mix….Mom I will not drink all of them – just a nice smattering of beers. Karbach, St Arnolds, Southern Star, No Label, Buffalo Bayou and ????

Guys, your GF or wife may enjoy some of the Belgian Wit Beers that have a hint of orange peel and coriander – they also tend to have a broad spectrum of how spicy they come across. I have to pat Coors on the back because their Blue Moon Belgian Wit has helped many of the fairer sex wander away from Miller Lite!

The list of beer styles is extensive…I have only scratched the surface – follow the link below to see what beer nerds love…beer styles listed and IU ranges for reach style.

Plan your week and your weekend….be adventurous!!!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly



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