Showing posts with label oskar blues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oskar blues. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's In Your Beer?

I am nearly at the end of the my case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and the few bottles of Saint Terese's Pale Ale from Highland Brewing that I bought with me. To head off any potential beer shortage, when we went to the nearest Publix I grabbed a couple of six packs of Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale. When we were back from the shop, Mrs V bimbled on down to the pool to enjoy a drink in the gathering gloom of night, and I was surprised to find that Dale's Pale Ale was much sweeter than I expected. Further research was required, and not of the liquid kind, but rather a quest for information online.

One of my bugbears with the vast majority of beers over here is the complete absence of key, decision making information on the label. I bought Dale's mainly because it was in cans and the name would suggest it is a regular American style pale ale, yet at 6.5% and 65 IBUs it is more in the American IPA ball park. When I am sitting by the pool (when you grow up on a small island in the Hebrides in the North Atlantic, sand and beaches really hold very little fascination) I really don't want to be drinking beers too far north of 5% - call me a wimp or a dilenttante if you wish. Admittedly with Dale's the alcohol content is listed on the side of the can, but other than that there is nothing to tell me what I might expect, like what hops are involved. With SNPA and Saint Terese's Pale Ale, you need to check their websites to learn about the alcohol content, IBUs, hop varieties and malts involved.

Is it really so difficult for brewers, or their designers, to actually find space on the labels to tell us what is in their beer? At a bare minimum there should be a list of malts and hops as well as the alcohol content. To completely misappropriate Ricoeur's hermeneutics of suspicion, what are they trying to hide by giving us just waffly bollocks about being a "completely natural ale", utter tosh since beer does not occur in nature, or that the beer in the bottle is "just a wee bit different". Sure you can argue that I can just look it up on the internet, but when in a shop and without owning a smart phone, yes there are still those of us out here who believe the telephone is for talking to people, you are effectively relying on producers of any foodstuffs to tell you what they use. In the case of the Dale's Pale Ale, checking out the website for meaningful information about the beer is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

I am not entirely sure if there are legal reasons for an absence of useful information on beer labels, but if not then could brewers please start telling their consumers at least the alcohol content, malts and hop varieties in a beer?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stifling the South

I want to preface my post today with a clarification, basically so I don't have to explain myself later if people get the wrong end of the stick. I like the beers of Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium.

With that out of the way, let me continue. If I were in the planning stages of starting a brewery over here on the East Coast of the USA, especially in North Carolina, but also Virginia and South Carolina, I would be worrying right now. I would be worrying because all three of the aforementioned businesses are planning to build breweries in North Carolina, all of them clustered in the Asheville area.

On one hand it is excellent news, it will create jobs, which will spur local economies as workers spend their money, so from a economic point of view this development is very welcome. A further benefit that has been mentioned is their beers on the East Coast will be fresher and of a higher quality, personally I am a little dubious on this, but there we go. Certainly they will be cheaper to distribute, but I very much doubt the consumer will benefit from that in any way shape or form, just as the consumer doesn't benefit from the transportation savings of using cans instead of bottles.

My concern then is that these expansionary moves will stifle the local craft brewing industries and that market share which previously supported much smaller operations will be lost to the bigger company. Of course, the economist will say that this is simply the invisible hand of the market, but I have an aversion to invisible hands grabbing small companies by the neck and squeezing the life out of them. Naturally there is the argument that having these big businesses on their doorstep should encourage the smaller local breweries to up their game so they can compete with the big boys, but the question remains will they have the resources to do so?

I can't help but think that this is the first stage in the consolidation of the craft brewing industry, where the bigger companies start to force their way into markets by opening brewing facilities in various parts of the country. While we will see more and more Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues beers in the supermarket aisles, we will see fewer local brews except at specialty outlets like Beer Run here in Charlottesville.

As I commented on my Twitter feed the other day these expansions are really no different from AB InBev buying up facilities to brew Budweiser in around the world, it's just that the beer is a bit better.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Time to Take Your Pils

A recurring theme somewhat of late has been pilsner style lager, and my ongoing efforts to find an American brewed pilsner which is both worthy of the name "pilsner" and bears more than a passing resemblance to those I drank day in and day out in the Czech Republic. Regular readers will no doubt be aware of my misgivings, but I am always happy to try a new beer, and so when a couple of commentators made some recommendations, off I went to the shop to buy more beer for the cellar.

As I have done before, I decided to do a blind tasting, with my beautiful assistant, Mrs Velkyal, in charge of pouring duties. This time though I was drinking beers new to me, although Victory Prima Pils was a beer I had had a couple of times before, though both times in a buzzed fug, so I wanted to get to grips with it when my head was fairly clear.

Pils A (a la Cyclops)

  • Sight - pale golden with a large frothy white head
  • Smell - grass, flowers, lemons
  • Taste - bready maltiness, slight butteriness, could use more hops
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Pils A was a nice enough beer, the kind of beer which I wouldn't turn my nose up at, but also not one I would rush across town and country to buy. A barbecue beer if you will.

Pils B

  • Sight - straw coloured, decent head which vanishes relatively quickly
  • Smell - grass and flowers
  • Taste - good hoppy bite up front, backed up by a grainy malt body, crisp
  • Sweet - 2/5
  • Bitter - 3/5
Another nice, refreshing lager, the hoppy bite was particularly welcome, definitely something I would drink many times again.

Pils C

  • Sight - darker gold, large, tight, white head
  • Smell - very yeasty, baked bread
  • Taste - very fruity, almost like jam, heavy butter
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 1.5
Pils C reminded me in many ways of the lagers from Chyně, which while being well made and popular with many back in Prague, simply aren't my thing because of the hefty dose of diacetyl.

As I hadn't had a couple of the beers before, there was no way I was going to try and guess which was what, so I simply ranked them as I preferred them, which turned out to be as follows:
  1. Victory Prima Pils - pils B
  2. Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils - pils A
  3. Lagunitas Pils - pils C
Next up then must be the inevitable taste comparison between the Prima Pils and Little Yella Pils and a few Czech lagers, to be picked up when I am next in South Carolina, next week in fact - in particular Budvar. The journey continues on.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...