Thursday, January 14, 2010

Beer Tragedy

I try to keep this blog reserved for baseball—and specifically, the Orioles—but I recently suffered a beer tragedy that has forced me to pen this non-sports post.

As you may know, I love beer. I don’t mean that I love polishing off a dozen Miller Lites, I mean that I love beer. The good stuff. IPAs, stouts, pale ales. In fact, I’m a bit (ok, a lot) of a beer snob. This is no secret amongst my friends and relatives, and for Christmas this past year my brother-in-law gave me the ultimate beer lover’s gift: 202 ounces of delicious Pacific Northwest brews, shipped directly to my home! That’s seven 22 oz bombers and four individual 12 ouncers representing eight different breweries and 10 distinct beers. Unfortunately, the package he mailed from Portland, Oregon, just before Christmas has never arrived at my home in Baltimore. If you are reading this and you are the postmaster of some small town in Nebraska where my package was lost along the way, please send it along.

My brother-in-law selected these beers with care, and he chose a wide array of brews that were sure to please my discerning palate. Come along with me as I imagine how delicious each would taste (all descriptions below are from the brewery).

1) Lompoc Brewing C-Note Imperial Pale Ale (22 oz): To call C-Note very hoppy would be an understatement. It's brewed with the seven "C" hops (Crystal, Cluster, Cascade, Chinook, Centennial, Columbus and Challenger) and pushes the bitterness limit to 100 International Bitterness Units (6.9% abv. 100 IBU).

2) Lompoc Brewing LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft) (22 oz): A Portland Classic! This strong ale has a deep mahogany color and is crafted with seven different specialty malts. A touch of smoked malt gives it a complex aroma and incredible flavor. LSD is also generously hopped with six hop varieties to help create an awesome beer (6.9% abv. 58 IBU).

3) Cascade Lakes Brewing IPA (22 oz): For those hop lovers out there, this is the beer for you. It is a traditional American Style I.P.A. featuring a significant amount of Northwest hops balanced with a hefty grain bill. If this beer doesn’t make your taste buds scream hops then we don’t know what will (6.0% abv. 65 IBU).

4) Cascade Lakes Brewing Santa’s Little Helper (12 oz): This is our winter seasonal beer which arrives early fall and stays around till after the holidays. Crystal malt and Cascade hops produce a well-balanced strong ale that is perfect for nights around fireplace with friends and family (6.4% abv, 50 IBU).

5) Deschutes Brewing Hop Trip (22 oz): This Fresh Hop Pale Ale is all about celebrating the hop harvest in the fall. Fresh picked hops have to be added to the brew immediately and in abundance. Roughly 680 pounds of Crystal hops from Doug Weathers' farm outside Salem, Oregon will be added to each 120 barrel batch in addition to some dry kilned whole flower hops. That adds up to approximately 5.7 pounds of hops per barrel brewed (5.5% abv, 30 IBU).

6) Terminal Gravity Brewing IPA (two 12 oz): Terminal Gravity's "India Pale Ale" is pale copper in color but big in flavor with a heady hop character. It is a true beer drinkers beer and brings a smile to many a face. We use spring water and snow melt from high in the Eagle Cap Wilderness! This is the beer that was named Beer of the Year by the Oregonian (6.9% abv).

"Terminal Gravity India Pale Ale is one of the best beers in the state, and therefore the country. It is a rich copper in the glass with a lucious hops aroma betraying a vigorous hopping rate. Complex maltiness balances the hoppy bite, as do the peachy notes... imparted by the yeast." John Foyston, The Oregonian

7) Heater Allen Brewing Sandy Paws (22 oz): Our Christmas beer. This year's Sandy Paws will be a little on the light side for a Baltic Porter, actually more of a roasty Bock. Still no light-weight, and still a great beer to sit by the fire with. Our "cover dog" for this year's label is Monty, a year old Labradoddle owned by Bill Sweat and Donna Morris of Winderlea Vineyards. Thanks again to Bill and Donna for their generous contribution to the McMinnville Education Foundation. 120 cases produced (6.25% abv, 36 IBU).

8) Roots Organic Brewing Island Red (22 oz): We call this a RED stout. Very full bodied complex ale brewed with a good amount of oats and barley, which lend to the nice bread and malt flavors and help give this RED a very rich & creamy head (5.6% abv, 62.5 IBU).

9) Oakshire Brewing Ill Tempered Gnome (22 oz): Take a little gnome home this winter! However, don’t put him in the front yard. The neighbors might steal him & he’ll definitely lose his cool! He’s a malty, hoppy brown ale of pure winter deliciousness (6.8% abv, 65 IBU).

10) Bridgeport Brewing Ebenezer Ale (12 oz): Our special Holiday brew, Ebenezer Ale is a smooth ale with a complex palate derived from four different roasted malts and a blend of local and imported hops. Deep mahogany in color, its malty first taste and full body is balanced with a light hop aroma, leading to a caramel finish. It’s a festive elixir that can transform the mood of any scrooge! So forget the egg-nog and have a pint of Ebenezer (6.4% abv, 40 IBU).

Now, if we had really been traveling down this lovely beer road, the spelling and punctuation on this post would not be nearly so accurate, and I would be smiling. Alas, the beers are missing. And I am not smiling.

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