Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Craft Beer with some "local personality"

by Joe

I am quickly coming to terms with the fact that when it comes to the color, smell and taste of a Craft Beer I will never have the refined senses possessed by some of the other contributors to this blog.

 But that doesn’t really bother me for I am starting to develop a different sense for Craft Beer. I’m starting to get the sense for the  “local personality” of Craft beer.

 Let me explain. Since I have started to expand my interest in Craft Beer, I have made it a point to when ever possible, sample a beer from the locale where I find myself. Since I have been traveling a bit lately, this has afforded me the opportunity to taste some decent offerings in the cities I visit.

 For example, in my last post on this site, I mentioned two beers I discovered during a trip to the California winecountry. One was from the Silverado Brewing Company in Napa and the other, Lagunitas IPA, is brewed in Sonoma County. Both were very enjoyable.

 While I was delayed at the Akron Airport a couple of months ago, I had a pint of a popular pale ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland. Yet another very good choice.
On a recent trip to Chicago, I asked the bar tender at a trendy hotel to recommend a local craft brew. He recommended Gumball Head from Three Floyds. It turns out its not quite a product of Chicago, but rather brewed in Indiana. I guess that's close enough. Gumball head may not have been from the neighborhood but I will tell you it was exceptional. And the “Beer Advocate” would agree scoring it at 94 points. Here is what BA has to say:

 28 IBUs - An American Wheat Ale, Gumball head is named in honor of the underground comic book cat created by Rob Syers. Initially a seasonal summer beer, now brewed year round due to demand. This beer helped redefine American Wheat Beers. Brewed with Amarillo Hops and a generous portion of American red wheat, Gumball head has a complex hop aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. These flavors combined with low bitterness make Gumball head a refreshing American Wheat Beer that doesn’t suck.

 Also this has one of the coolest labels that I have come across.

 Unfortunately when I was in the Miami Airport two weeks ago they didn’t offer any local selections just the old standards. So nothing to report from South Beach, maybe next time.

 What causes me to write now as opposed to back when I first experienced these brews.
Well, oddly enough this evening I found myself in my basement on cat litter box duty. I know, that's not an image you need. The basement is where the refrigerator with all the beers sits. In an effort to make my task more manageable I opened ”Mild Winter” from Goose Island, which actually is a Chicago Brewery.  Turned out to be a good choice for litter box duty. Great light brown coloring with a smooth taste, just don’t ask me what the taste actually is.

 Here is what the Brewer has to say:

 “Toffee brown, medium-bodied, with a creamy head and an aroma of raisins and freshly baked dark bread. Mild Winter’s rich caramel malt and spicy rye flavors are sure to take the bite out of whatever Old Man Winter brews up for you this year.”

 Incidentally, another beer I tried out in Chicago was Green line. It was on tap and as with the others quite enjoyable. Well wouldn’t you know it that while researching Mild Winter, I discovered that Green line is a product of Goose Island? What are the odds?

 OK, where I am getting to with all this is that Craft beer for me is a way to experience the local personality of a particular place and people.  Whether it be the beer itself, the label or even the physical plant and how the brewer promotes oneself. It truly allows for a real local expression. This is what I have discovered I enjoy about this new interest.

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