Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beer: Beverage, Culture, Mediator

The nation (or the media at least) has recently had their eyes fixed on Cambridge, Massachusetts, where an unlikely dust-up between a famous Harvard professor and a level-headed Cambridge police officer again brought up the issue of race in America.

President Obama, being the last major catalyst of this ongoing debate, felt the need to weigh in on the matter, and did so in a way that some found inappropriate.

In an attempt to smooth over his remarks and to generally mend fences in the matter, Obama decided to invite both Professor Gates and Officer Crowley to the White House...for a beer.

To the average American, this made a lot of sense. Conflicts, deals, partnerships, and more are often hashed out over a pint. What better way to make friends or make peace with your neighbor but to invite him over for a brew?

The offering of a beer is a peace-offering, a trust-maker, a crutch. It puts us at ease, and allows us to communicate with some of our barriers aside, even after only 1 sip. It puts us in that comfortable place where we speak our mind, but in a reasonable way.

Politics aside, us beer drinkers have our own questions regarding the suds summit; namely, what beers will they be drinking?

According to ABC, the President will have a Bud Light, the Professor a Red Stripe, and the Officer a Blue Moon.

What do these beer selections say about these personalities? An article in the New York Times noted that Bud is foreign owned, Red Stripe imported, and Blue Moon is served with fruit.

Personally I think that were I to serve beer at the White House, I would serve the finest the Country had to offer. There is, however, something to be said about giving each man his preferred brand. After all, the President is not trying to impress a German diplomat, he is trying to put the parties at ease.

With that said, I think if one is going to hold a beer summit, the choice of the beer to be served is obvious.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Summit Unchained

Attention Midwest beer lovers: there's a new series of limited edition brews headed your way.

Summit is offering up a limited series of beers called their "Unchained" series. The first offering is to be an authentic German Kölsch.

Kölsch, unlike most of its German cousins, is not a lager. The beer is actually top fermented at relatively warm temperatures, like an ale. Although it is often stored for a period of time, or lagered, it is not technically a lager.

Much like tequila, champagne, or cognac, technically only beers from Köln (Cologne) can bear the Kölsch designation. A 1986 German law limited production to Köln and a few nearby breweries that were grandfathered in. The designation was eventually extended to the entire EU.

Indeed, referring to Kölsch brewed in the U.S. the Wikipedia page notes that:

While the labeling of these brews as Kölsch may be legal in local law, it is certainly misleading, as Kölsch-style ales brewed outside the Cologne area are not guaranteed to use the same ingredients and brewing processes, and might therefore differ in their flavor and aroma profile. Further, they may not be compliant with the Provisional German Beer Law, the current implementation of the Reinheitsgebot.

It may be a concern for some folks, but it shouldn't be for Summit drinkers. According to the Brewery:
...we have used only the most authentic ingredients available to produce this beer. We have used 100% imported German malt; a blend of Pilsener and Kölsch malts from the Global Malt cooperative (a cooperative of 3 German Maltsters with a combined 6 maltings headquartered in Osthofen) and a small percentage of Caramalz from the Weyermann maltings in Bamberg. The hops we have used are also imported from Germany and are only grown in the Hallertau region of Bavaria. Hallertau Mittelfrüh are some of the most delicate, distinctive and highly prized hops in the world. Finally, we will be using traditional top fermenting Kölsch yeast obtained from the world-renowned yeast banks at Weihenstephan in Bavaria.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beer of the Week

I know that it's been a while since this blog has been a regular feature, so it's about time to get it back in motion.

Normally I'd save the BOTW for a weekend, but I figure it's been so long you can't complain.

Our feature this week comes from the well known Western Michigan powerhouse, Founders. Founders has been brewing since 1990, but has really become a craft brew staple over the last 5 years or so; with the dry-hopped citrus winner Centennial IPA, and the oil slick Breakfast Stout, it's easy to see why.

I was reintroduced to their Red's Rye at a local beer festival in St. Paul. As far as stand out ales, this brew jumped to mind with other quality entries like Lagunita's Lil' Sumpin' Sumpin' and Grand Teton's IPA.

Red's Rye P.A., as the bottle says, pours a rich amber color with some hints of red. The beer has a nice head with some significant lacing. There's a huge hop scent, with noticeable grapefruit and some spiciness. The mouthfeel is full and smooth, and the hops are balanced by a really nice sweet malt finish. The hops and the rye balance each other very nicely as they are washed down by the hops.

This is, without a doubt, one of the better IPAs in the country, and perhaps the very best brewed in the Midwest. If you're in Grand Rapids, stop by their beautiful tap room. If you're not, stop by your local liquor store and pick this one up.

Welcome back to Beer on the Brain.

Links of Interest:
Founders Brewing

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