Friday, July 15, 2011

Thinking of Drinking: Just What the Doctor Ordered – Beer

With summer’s hot days upon us nothing breaks through the throbbing heat better than some good ol’ cold suds. Capital Cooking was recently at Georgetown’s notorious “Social Safeway” on Wisconsin Avenue where Patrick O’Laughlin of the Boston Beer Company and Brad Phillips of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company held a tasting of some seasonal brews.

From Sierra Nevada four beers were on hand: Summer Festival, Kellerweis Hefeweizen, Torpedo Extra IPA and their well-known Pale Ale. The Summer Festival is an all-around good seasonal beer – crisp with a slight bitterness and not overly hoppy. Its flavor is much lighter than the Pale Ale most of us are familiar with. I would have preferred something with a little more depth of flavor but for cooling down it’s a good choice. I moved on to the Kellerweis Hefeweizen which has fruity, yeasty flavor with sweet overtones – a great beer if you looking to expand on your summer collection. The Torpedo Extra IPA is a bit stronger with an alcohol content of 7.2% as opposed to the Pale Ale which is around 5%. In terms of its flavor, it does not venture much further than the Pale Ale. Dark amber in color, it has a nice hoppy nose and a roasted bitterness with a smooth texture.
Moving on to the Boston Beer Company, the producers of the Samuel Adams line of beer, Patrick offered their Summer Ale, Cherry Wheat, Latitude IPA and Double Bock. The seasonal Summer Ale is made with a number of ingredients including lemon peel, noble hops and grains of paradise. Hoppy on the nose, the beer has a smooth lightness with a lemony finish. Reminiscent of a German-style pilsner it is clean and crisp.
The Cherry Wheat is surprisingly good. I’m not usually one to go for flavored beers but with the use of fresh Michigan cherries and honey in the brewing process, the beer was quite similar to beer “cocktails” found in many beer gardens across the German-speaking world in which a bit of fruit juice or lemon-lime soda is added to beer. The cherry flavor did not overwhelm the beer and it had a nice sweetness balanced well with the bitter hops. It probably won’t become my go-to beer but if you are looking for something fun and different you can’t go wrong. The Latitude IPA has 6% alcohol content (slightly lower than Sierra Nevada’s IPA) with a nice citrus aroma, a fresh, bitter-sweet flavor continuing with a bitter finish. With its dark brown color, the Double Bock Imperial Series is quite different than the rest with a bitter and malty flavor. Aged 4-6 weeks longer than their other beers it also has an oaky bouquet and taste. 

Patrick mentioned Samuel Adams will soon introduce 22 oz. bottles of select beers as they attempt to tap into the craft-beer market and the trend of serving beers “wine-style,” with bottles serving multiple drinkers. 

My favorites of this batch of beer: Sam Adams’ Summer Ale and Sierra Nevada’s Classic Pale Ale. If you’re looking for a tasty and crisp summer quencher you can’t go wrong with either.
Matt Keller

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