Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July Beer style of the week – Independence Day-inspired beers

Week 22

The course of history might have been drastically altered had, for instance, Paul Revere ducked into a pub for a few pints on his way to Concord, or had he detoured to Concord, New Hampshire and begun ringing bells to warn the British, as the history-challenged Mama Bear from Alaska suggested.

Historical inaccuracies aside, we can take comfort and a measure of pride that 235 years ago a nearly cosmic alignment of smart, independence-minded leaders, hard-working farmers, sailors, business owners and clergymen stood together, shoulder to shoulder and drank beer.

And they didn’t just huddle secretly together in taverns to slug down beer to discuss sports and women. No, they decided they didn’t like living under tyrannical rule of law or being taxed without representation, so they drafted a Declaration of Independence and after fighting war with King George III’s army followed by several more rounds of ale, drafted The Constitution of The United States.

Was it any coincidence that founding fathers George Washington, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson (Great, great, great, great, great grandfather to George Jefferson of “The Jefferson’s”), John Hancock and Ben Franklin were all brewers of beer? I don’t think so!

You’re probably asking yourself, “What prompted Don to write stuff about Independence Day and somehow try to tie it into an article about beer?”

It was Samuel Adams (a real Patriot) Boston Stock Ale. It triggers my patriotism every time.

Passionate beer lovers well up with pride whenever we hear of how George Washington, in the heat of war took on a congress that suggested beer rations for the troops be cut in half. General George knew that in addition to providing some nutritional value, beer gave the troops a much needed boost in morale. You might say, beer won the war. I wouldn’t go that far.

This Independence Day, as we gather with those near and dear to us for American-style BBQ, let’s raise a glass or two to those who came before us to fight for the freedoms we enjoy today. And what patriotic beers should we raise in New England this 4th?

Beers for working at the grill and snacking on appetizers

Samuel Adams Boston Stock Ale – Boston, MA – 5.2% ABV

Sam Adams Boston Ale/Stock Ale is my favorite "everyday" ale. When researching and rating a vast array of ales and lagers, from delicate pilsners to overwhelming imperial stouts and barleywines, it's good to find an ale with which to refresh the palette or to simply enjoy without research in mind (yes, at times we need a break from the daily grind). This ale has a deep copper color with reddish hues, nice malty body and is amply hopped. The separation between the distinct malt and hops flavors, smooth out and become more balanced after a few gulps. The fresh finishing hop aroma lingers. There's a clean fruity finish and nice long lasting head. Now I’ve gone and made myself thirsty for another one!

Liberty Ale - Pale Ale– Anchor Brewing – San Francisco, California – 6% ABV

Yes, it’s not from New England, but it does inspire “Liberty” and the pursuit of Hoppiness!

The rich copper color shines brightly. I believe Maaco should offer this color in car paint. They could call it 'Liberty Deep Copper'. It would certainly look great on my Ford Edge!

The wonderful hop bouquet is immediately noticed and appreciated when poured into the glass and unlike most American pale ales, the aroma lingers, albeit more subtlety as the brew disappears.

After taking the time to fully admire the fine hop nose and rich copper color, the next outstanding trait of Liberty Pale Ale one notices is the hop distinctive taste. The fresh whole hops are in abundance, yet not overwhelming. There's a crisp metallic sharp-edged bitterness with light citrus undertones. The sharpness diminishes slightly as you drink it down and the hop to malt difference becomes less exaggerated and more balanced and smooth. The medium to full malt body is lightly sweet with a hint of nuts. It seems to me that a lot of care has been taken in the malt roasting process.

Main Course Beers

Salads and Cold Plates

Les Biere Des Sans Culottes – Biere de Garde – Brasserie La Choulette – Hordain, France – 7% ABV

This beer is not only a nod to the French who helped us achieve our independence, it’s a fantastic Biere de Garde! Viva la revolution!

16.9oz tall green, corked bottle. Best Before date notched on the side. Nice artwork on the label paying tribute to the "trouserless" laborers who did the handiwork of the French Revolution. BTW - The fighters appear to be wearing trousers, but the woman leading the charge has raised her flag while lowering the top of her blouse. Ooh la la! Merci!!!

It pours a cloudy honey gold color with a small, but lasting white head and some sticky and trailing lace.

The aroma is a pleasant mix of dried malt, hay, lemony citrus and faint whiff of alcohol.

The malt has a nice herbal quality to it. A light sweetness and buttery biscuit taste provide a uniquely satisfying maltiness.

A lime-like bitterness is upfront. Hints of coriander, cloves and faint taste of pears adds to the brew's fine subtle character. The 7%abv is well disguised.

This is one those rare beer purchases that turn out to be an amazing find. I ALWAYS wish I had bought more.

Grilled and/or Smoked Meats

Geary’s Hampshire Special - D.L. Geary’s Brewery – Portland, Maine – 7% ABV

This was a winter seasonal - Must Try! Now it’s available year-round. Deep golden bronze/amber with a tint of red. Very complex dry robust malt with a trace of sweetness. Powerfully hopped, then dry hopped for good measure. The maltiness rolls forward throughout the glass and begins to reveals a trace of berries and some smoothness. An unusual, but nice pine essence is long lasting. The alcohol is noticed, though not overly so. The creamy beige head lingers and nice lace is formed. As with all of D.L. Gearys brews, there sort of a raw wildness, like Maine itself. Its easy to picture a Norman Rockwell Maine coast pub scene in winter where the cheerful patrons are toasting one another with a frosty mug of Hampshire Special. Now that really warms the heart! BTW Hampshire Special pairs really well with hearty stews and grilled or smoked meats. Try braising a roast with this ale in place of Burgundy wine.


Blueberry, Strawberry and Whipped Cream Parfait (Red White & Blue)

We need a beer here that can pair with tart fruit, yet melds well with rich sweet cream.

Thomas Hooker Liberator Dopplebock – Bloomfield, Connecticut – 8% ABV

16.9oz dark brown swing top bottle. Bottled in 2006.

It pours a very dark and deep ruby-hued mahogany color with a fast-fading beige head, along with thin scattered patches of lacing.

It smells like a hop monster with big whiffs of caramel and damp hay accompanied by notes of dried barley and leather.

Tastes of burnt crème brulee, sweet caramel, Ovaltine, milk chocolate, tobacco and leather are all quite upfront and noticeable. A slight background taste of prune juice is detected in the background.

A mellow Myers Lemony tartness provides some contrast to the big, bold malty body, as does a dose of a metallic bite. Though make no mistake, this brew is all about the malt structure with well-applied hop reminders.

Lovely Stuff!

Rich, creamy Cinnamon Ice Cream or Indian Pudding

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin – Portland, Maine – 9% ABV

Pumpkins were widely used for brewing in early America’s history. The colonists of Maine built “shipyards” to build the ships which were used to defeat the British. Shipyard Founder and Brewer, Alan Pugsley emigrated from England. How’s that for rationalizing?

22oz brown bottle. Served in a Chimay goblet.

It pours an oily, orange-hued amber color with a beige head along with some wisps of trailing lacing.

A strong and delightful whiff of rum-soaked pumpkin pie rises at first pour. Do I actually smell the crust! The nutmeg spiciness is subdued, but thoughts of Thanksgiving dessert flood my senses. A solid malty smell mingles with some spicy and citrusy hops. Dark rum in the nose never fades.

The flavors are bold and upfront. Very little in the way of subtleties. Big spiced pumpkin taste, Big Doughy Maltiness, Big Ruminess, and not so big, yet noticeable hoppiness.

SO much better than Shipyard's other Pumpkin Ale, and not because it's much bigger. It's big but balanced and wonderfully rich and decadent.

Let's see how it ages...

Ok, let the fireworks and patriotic music begin! God Bless America!

Quote: ““An attack on one of our sister colonies, to compel submission to arbitrary taxes, is an attack made on all British America. That we will not hereafter, directly or indirectly import, or cause to be imported, from great Britain, and of the goods hereafter enumerated, either for sale or for our own use . . . beer, ale, porter, malt.” – George Washington - 1774

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