As the marauding hordes of craft beer geeks attack local liquor stores for Bourbon County I sat quietly sipping on a 2013 vintage of Black Tuesday by The Bruery ignoring the fleeting desire to run like a chicken with my head cut off through the internet and BUY MORE CRAFT BEER!
And upon this momentous occasion of tasting Black Tuesday for the first time I came across the following thought: is high ABV beer helping us experience more beer? Maybe yes, but also maybe no.
High ABV beer seems to be a holy grail of the dark beer experience with booming flavor and uncharted flavor profiles in the labyrinth of barrel aging. For example Samaus and Mephistopheles by Avery, Black Tuesday and Sucre by The Bruery, and The End of History by Brew Dog all give us mammoth flavors that catapult us into the outer space of big beer. They have discovered the rare air of this. And for new flavor profiles I am all for it! The uncharted territory is incredible.
But during my 2013 vintage tasting of Black Tuesday I realized (this is also post Samaus, Mephistopheles, and Sucre see my Untapped to prove it) that I could not handle this beer if it had not been aged I would not have been able to handle the flavor profile! What happens when you age beer is that the harsh and sharp flavors round out to create the perfect easy coasting turns of malt forward beers. This was my experience completely with aging Black Tuesday. I remember also when I had Sucre for the first time that the astringency of the alcohol almost burned my mouth. The sugariness almost gave me heartburn like when I eat donuts!
Long story short I am a fan of high ABV beers.
Long story short, super psyched that I aged my high ABV beer.
Thus are high AVB beers helping the craft beer scene? Maybe yes because they push the boundaries of flavor and engineering in the brewing world. Maybe not because the astringency is burning my tastebuds and I am unable to enjoy this beer.
Whatever your preference think about your beer and the best way to enjoy it.
One of the dangers of coming from the new world is that we like things that are big, bold, and in your face. The subtle, serene, and quiet tend to be missed in the maze of wows and kazaams in the bigger and better america.
This heartily applies to craft beer in america. Take sours for example. New world sours are blowing up in a variety of styles and craziness that the traditions of Belgium never expected. Or take IPA’s. Touchy subject I know so I will tread lightly. Avery brewing, in a marvelous pun, made a “new world porter” which is really a black IPA proving that americans are taking classic styles to their borders and beyond.
This trait of the New World, most realized by the good old ‘Merica, is something to be cherished and honored but also to be used with a cautious and careful hand. If we forget the tradition which has inspired our wild witches brews then we tend to boil down to arrogant “a-cultural” jerks who don’t give credit where credit is due. However on the other hand if we fear the tradition we never experiment and try new things collapsing into the sepulcher of the past and never utilizing our individual gifts.
This is one reason why beers like The New Belgium and 3 Floyds Gratzer is such a great beer. Not because it tastes good but because these new world brewers are honoring the style while also putting their own spin on this.
I dont think the american craft beer scene is necessarily in danger of become “a-historical” because many brewers have done taken advice from the heroes’ of the old world such as Allagash going to Cantillion to figure out how to do a coolship (see the book American Sour Beers). Or for example how it was in american that the lost styles of Gose and Berlinerwiess were recovered, changed, and taken in as our own. But we always want to say Cheers to the world of tradition for the sake of new inginuity. For the love of craft beer enjoy a old world style and raise a pint to our family across the pond.
With the epidemic of flashes interrupting meals and beers out on the town nowadays here are a few tips for taking better pictures for your Instagram.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer. I am only sharing some helpful things I have learned from failing at beerstagraming for all those years
1. Focus on the beer, not the background. We tend to think that we can just whip out our phones and snap away only to come home to a bunch of blurry pics. “Oh this beer was great! Let me show you a pic!” “Dude, that’s blurry, I can see the bar, but not the beer.” Take the time, stick your finger on the screen, and end the blurriness. Below the left pic has the background in focus while the right has the glass in focus. Take the time to do it right.
2. Try different angles. For example sometimes its fun to do the upside down pic! Or the landscape pic! Try using mirrors! Get creative! Here is a great example from @craft_what!
Have you ever felt the love of a Labrador retriever? Brown, black or yellow they are always excited, happy, minus the drool. They always want to see you! And even when you don’t know you are down they come over, lay on your feet, brush up against your side and change your day. In a subtle fashion they know how and when to love.
In the same sense Ellie’s Brown Ale displays the same subtleties as a beer. It smoothly and quietly slides into your mouth and gives you it’s love. The nutty goodness eases a bad day into a good afternoon.
Imagine yourself on a ship with Jack Sparrow, cargo in the hold, sailing along the savage seas. The precious cargo in the hold, Treasures from the new world. These treasures include the precious hops. And herein lies the intrigue of Avery Brewing Co’s New World Porter. They pile the pun on top of a pun with this beer almost lying to you about the name.
Lets talk about what they mean by New World Porter. The Porter came about during the industrial revolution because taxes on dark barely were lower than other malts. So the Porter became the blue collar old world beer. Now then, what are american beers known for? Hops, Hops, Hops! So put the two together and what do you get? A hoppy porter, by which I mean to say, a Black IPA. A New World Porter is what Avery calls their Black IPA. Punny? Yes. Fun? Yes. Good beer? Absolutely.
I actually thought I was going to be drinking a porter so when the hops of this Black IPA smashed through my nose hairs it caught me off guard and I nearly fell off the boat. This beer takes you on a beer journey to the old world with its dark carmely malts. But the best thing is that it does not leave you there but lifts you up puts you back on the boat and takes you to the New world with its incredible hoppy profile. Try this beer if you can get it and you wont be disappointed, as per usual with Avery.
And while you drink it, watch this video if you can hold it down. Until next time, pour proper my friends…