Friday, 10 September 2010

Beers in America

A trip to Washington DC provided some good beer drinking at some friendly bars - many of which even served my beloved Blue Moon on tap. Great work.

Starting off with an Austrian, then. Urbock 23° (pictured top) is an amazing, and amazingly strong (9.6% abv), beer from a brewery called Schloss Eggenberg. Matured for nine months (as long as a human fetus) until golden brown, and luxuriously thick, it tasted of almonds and honey and biscuits and stuff, with a smooth finish. Excitingly, this one came from the cask, from a cute little pub called The Saloon.

From the same pub I swiftly downed a refreshing pint of Batch 19 (pictured left), described as a "pre-prohibition style lager". The beer, made by Coors from a newly discovered old recipe (supposedly), was hoppy for a lager, with only gentle bubbles.

Hades (below right) comes from the Denver-based Great Divide Brewing Company, producer of a brilliant rice ale called Samurai (more here). This one, bought in hip DC hangout Marvin, was a Belgian-style golden ale - spicy, hoppy, malty (nice).

Allagash White was "brewed with spices" in Portland, Maine. It was a hot evening, and I needed something on the lighter side, which the Allagash delivered: cloudy, wheaty and crisp.

Americans make more interesting lagers than us Brits. At least, that's my theory, evidenced by malty, refreshing beers like Trader Joe's Bohemian Lager (5%), which I sampled from the bottle.

Kennebunkport Blueberry Wheat Ale (below left) sounds daft, but the beer, with added "natural" fruit flavours, provided an enjoyably subtle blueberry twist to an otherwise bland bottle.

Having recently enjoyed Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout, I was intrigued to try its Brown Ale. This, as I recall, was substantial and malty, but still relatively gulpable - like an estranged younger brother - or perhaps distant nephew - of the more challenging Stout (which I tried again shortly afterwards).

Finally, and just to prove I don't like every beer out there, I have to mention my first tasting of a sour beer (intentionally sour, on purpose, that is). The 7.3% bottle of Petrus Aged Pale Ale was described in The Saloon's menu as a "very interesting representation of a Flemish sour ale style", which after being aged in oak for up to 30 months finished with a "classic sourness". I hated it - tasted like vinegar. Definitely interesting, though.

Before I finish, a question to any American readers out there - what's with the Belgian beer obsession? Why don't your bars stock more home-grown American ales? They're quite good, you know.

Finally-finally, a mini-rant about a supposedly exciting DC cocktail bar known as The Gibson. I say "supposedly", since despite having been put down on a list as VIPs (I know, I'm not sure why either) a group of us were denied entry for the crime of wearing sandals and/or shorts. Bear in mind this was August in DC, when temperatures - even at night - are high enough to make a cat cry. Bizarrely, the no-sandals-or-shorts rule apparently kicks in only after 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, at which point clothing normally considered perfectly acceptable suddenly, inexplicably, becomes inappropriate. I really have no idea how such a miserably small-town attitude managed to insinuate itself into a reputedly decent bar in a major city. Note to management: stop being pricks. Or assholes, even.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent - very on point with The Gibson. The whole post made me very thirsty....This Bud's for you!