Wednesday, June 29, 2005

beer in the NY Times

The NY Times has been running a series of articles and multimedia tastings called 'Ales of the Times' following their 'Wines of the Times' features. They do a pretty good job and they bring on people who kow what they're talking about like the owner of Spuytin Duyvil, the best beer bar in NYC, and Lew Bryson, SE Pennsylvania beer writer who knows PA quite well, even where Clem's BBQ is!

Anyway, they did a pale ale tasting recently that's running in today's online times. I think they did a pretty good job. I most liked how they picked Dales Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Brewing in Colorado (in their BLIND tasting) as their favorite. I've had the beer. It's a really tasty example of an American Pale Ale.

AND it comes in a can.

There is this misconception that canned beers taste worse than bottled beers. I don't think so. In fact, as the article points out, it is better for the beer because it protects it from getting light struck.

Anyway, I wasn't too happy with a couple other parts of the article. Namely how they, as per the norm really, focus on hops as the main difference between British Pale Ales and American Pale Ales. While this is certainly an important and upfront difference between the two styles, I actually think that yeast strain has an equal impact on style. British styles aren't hopped as aggressively, nor are they hopped with assertive, citrusy American hops, but they use yeast that produces interesting and quite complex flavors and aromas, typically makeing british Pale Ales so much more nuanced and complicated than American Pale Ales.

Any of you experience Victory's (SE PA brewery) pale ale contest? They brewed one with American yeast and one with British yeast. Same recipe otherwise. British pale ale one hands down. Of course the hopping rate was fairly low and not terribly distinct if I remember correctly, but still, yeast has a huge impact.

And relatedly, the article mentions Anchor and Sierra Nevada as the pioneers of the American style. I would agree, but then they mention Anchor Liberty Ale as a good American Pale Ale. Well, in my experience, Liberty Ale is much closer to a British Style Pale Ale. Has a really complex yeast flavor profile. Anchor Steam is far closer to an American Pale Ale in my opinion. Super clean yeast flavors and substantial hopping rate. Of course Anchor Steam is a steam beer, but let's be honest, not all that different from an American Pale Ale.

From the Walt Whitman Times, this is Matt Dunn.

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