Thoughts on beer styles

11 Jan

So the kiddo got sick at school today…that means Dad does the pick-up and we head home early.  Needless to say, I had some free time on my hands this afternoon as she engrossed herself in the Secret of Nimh (a great movie, by-the-way).  I was reading a recent post on Beervana regarding Scotch Ales and it got me thinking about how adamant some people are about the idea of a beer style.  “Authentic” is a word that is thrown around quite a bit these days, as people seek to showcase their knowledge of local/regional beer styles.  On some level, I have a tremendous amount of respect for those that seek out to either drink or eat that which is “authentic”.  You can learn a lot from those people.  They clearly hold dear the idea of tradition and history.  And nobody can doubt how great it is to eat or drink something with hundreds, or maybe thousands, of years of history behind it.  However, I really like where the author came down on this topic in his post. 

In 30 years, the Scotch Ale will not necessarily be remembered as a mistake of American brewing.  It will more likely be a fully-ensconsed style of beer with all the ballyhoo that accompanies those that brew it well.  Lord knows that I have had a magnificent Scotch Ale or three in my time.  Mistake of American brewing or not, this is an example of all that is right with brewing today.  There will always be room for tradition and authenticity.  I welcome it and look forward to tasting it.  But what is really great about this thing called beer and craft brewing is the appeal of new things and interesting styles of beer that are yet to be discovered.  As the envelope continues to be pushed, we will all be exposed to some truly hideous things, but we will also be given the opportunity to question our own palettes and the idea of what a beer should be.  In time, those new ideas will become part of the mainstream and keep alive the idea of innovation and experimentation.

During my beer blog reading, I opened my second Christmas present from Michael and Miranda.  It was the Krokkebic Sour Ale from Haand Bryggeriet Brewery in Norway.  This beer is brewed with Crowberries and is a nice, round 7% ABV.  Since I have never have had a crowberry, I have no idea what they actually taste like (being unfamiliar with them, I had to look them up on Wikipedia).  I guessed sour…you know…from the label.  The beer was a nice orangish-red color with a really sour-berry nose that had a hint of peppercorns.  Just like it smelled, this beer was tart!  It had a great dry and crisp finish and the perfect amount of bubbles in the carbonation to carry its flavors all over the tongue.  Whether you try this beer, or one of their other options,  I think these guys are doing some really interesting stuff.  I visited the brewery’s website, but couldn’t find out much of anything about this particular beer.  Is this an authentic Norwegian/Scandanavian beer?  Who knows.  Crowberries are native to most of the extreme northern (and southern) latitudes of the world.  They even exist in Alaska, so it’s possible they are utilized there as indigenous food or as an ingredient in beer in places all over the world.  What I do know is that drinking beers like this keeps me honest and open to the possibilities that exist in the world when it comes to beer.  I am thankful that Miranda and Michael challenged me with something new and unexpected.

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