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Peter LaFrance

Friday, January 30, 2009

A taste of… Odd Notion (Spring 09)

Magic Hat Brewery and Performing Arts Center
5 Bartlett Bay Road
South Burlington, VT 05403

Preface: This is the second bottle that came in the recent package from the good folks at Magic Hat. The promotional material that came with this gave the following specs for the Magic Hat Odd Notion (Spring 09):

Style: Poppy Agave Pilsner
Appearance: Light golden in color.
Flavor: Sour accents of organic agave with poppy seeds planting a sweet, nutty balance.
Malt: Pilsner and Munich
Hops: Hallertaur
Additions: Organic agave syrup, natural blue poppy seeds
OG (Plato) 12.5
SMR: 6
IBU: 15
Alcohol by volume: 5%

The following are my tasting notes:

Appearance: Here we have a hard-cider-yellow brew, topped with a rather dense creamy white head of small bubbles. The Belgian lace is admirable.

Aroma: On opening the bottle there was an obvious fresh hop sensation perceived. The first impression on “nosing” (inhaling the first aromatic sensations) is of non-malt sweetness and a bit of a citric undertone. The second impression reinforces the first. The lip-to-sip was remarkably uneventful.

Mouth feel: This is a medium bodied beer with a medium carbonation. The tang that is non-hop adds to the slight acidic spike of carbolic acid from the carbonation...

Flavor: An initial refreshing sensation is followed by a series of very slowly developing flavor sensations. The agave seems to find an attraction to the usually delicate Hallertaur that is close enough to be incest. Sorting the two out is possible only after more time has passed and the pallet looses the touch of hops and is left with what must be agave. (Tequila is not one of my favorite spirits.) I am still waiting for the poppy seed sweet to call.

Finish: This is a long finishing brew that allows you to enjoy sorting out the agave and hops flavors. (Don’t think too much though… this is a fun beer…)

Comments: My impression is that the brewers at Magic Hat enjoy trying things that not only would other brewers not try… they have left the “box” and unfolded the “envelope” to play with flavors and aromatic sensations. Sometimes the results are ethereal, sometimes the results are pleasant and sometimes they are just there.

The psychic vibes, after all this is from Magic Hat, I get from this brew is a longing for spring that can be tasted. (I went to Norwich University in Vermont so I can relate to that longing for the end of winter and the glorious “mud season” that heralds the arrival of Spring.)

I would pair this beer with at least six friends (that way you will need two six packs) and hour or two of discussion about what “spring” means.

The Brewery: http://www.magichat.net/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/96/47451


Thursday, January 29, 2009

A taste of… Magic Hat H.I.P.A. (Spring 09)

Magic Hat Brewery and Performing Arts Center
5 Bartlett Bay Road
South Burlington, VT 05403

Preface: The good folks at Magic Hat sent me this bottle of Magic Hat H.I.P.A. (Spring 09) along with their Odd Notion Spring 09 (with poppy seeds and agave). The promotional material that came with these brews gave the following specs for the Magic Hat H.I.P.A. (Spring 09):

Style: An American India Pale Ale
Appearance: Golden in color.
Flavor: The Barest hint of a malty middle in the center of the mouth, with a long, dry finish.
Malt: English Pale
Hops: Columbus
Dry Hopping: Columbus
OG (Plato) 16.5
SMR: 7
IBU: 45
Alcohol by volume: 5.8%

The following are my tasting notes:

Appearance: This is a slightly cloudy burnished copper/gold brew topped with a full head of large and medium sized bubbles that quickly relax into a very rocky almost white head that leaves a strong Belgian Lace.

Aroma: The first impression is of a new-mowed lawn. Second impression brought a slightly sweet malted barley aroma to the front, more or less. Finally the lip-to-sip confirmed the hops as the dominant flavor. The new-mowed lawn is joined by a very slight lemon aroma.

Mouth feel: This is a medium bodied beer with a full carbonation that adds both a creamy sensation and a slight acidic spike.

Flavor: After the initial refreshing sensation of the cool liquid, an immediate hop presence is experienced, with a firm hand shake and slap on the back for the taste buds in the mouth. Then a sharper hop flavor, not quite citric, not quite metallic, washes through the aromatic sensors and remain comfortably ensconced on the rear of the pallet.

Finish: This is a long finishing brew with more of a savory rather than cleansing effect...
Comments: Pale India Ales are difficult for me to decipher. First, because there are so many sub-styles. Once you add anything other than English two-row malted barley or English hops it becomes something other than Pale India Ale. However, if the essence of the style is to have a medium alcohol and medium bodied brew with enough hop flavor to grab your attention without becoming hop-tea, that this is an I.P.A.

I would venture to say that this is a brew that would be best served as a “dinner” beer. It would enhance a hearty soup, then great a well flavored savory entrée with open arms and not be intimidated by either a sweet or fruit for the last dance.

The Brewery: http://www.magichat.net/

What others say:

BeerAdvocate: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/96/9873

RateBeer: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/magic-hat-hipa/23899/

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Three Reasons to Drink Beer

The following three reasons to drink beer do not include consuming mass quantities of the suds. (For the record, “moderate drinking” according to the medical industry is basically no more than ten portions of beverage alcohol per week for persons of my gender, height, weight and age. Your mileage may vary.)

The reasons have been chosen with great care. They were chosen to inform and instigate debate. Citations have been included only if they can be confirmed by at least three independent sources. This is important to make note of because of modern myths and legends propagated by well meaning and just plain mean folks. These myths and legends have been repeated enough that they can often be found wearing a patina of truth that is not deserved.

Research for this piece began in September 1969. And yes, those initial encounters with yellow brew (called “Farmers Beer” in Canada) did involve consuming more than the recommended daily allowance of beverage alcohol for a person of my gender, height, weight and age (just barely legal at that time in New York State). Since then I can say that I have tasted over 1,000 different beers, ales, stouts, porters, barley wines, bocks, Doubles, Triples sparkling fermented malt beverages in at least an equal number of pubs, bars, taverns, inns, bistros, and bodegas. After all that research I humbly offer the following three reasons to drink beer.

1) One will relax you. That is the essential reason a person drinks beer. From the micro-maven to the Lite beer lover all drink beer to get a buzz. Intoxication is what happens when beverage alcohol is consumed. The degree of intoxication depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the time duration from beginning to last drop consumed.

2) Two is a Round. Two beers, ordered and then served at the same time is the basic “Round”. This “Round” must have two participants. (In an emergency the bartender can be enlisted. If they will not participate the event can no longer be called a “Round” and becomes drinking-for-effect if the beverages are consumed in quick succession, or drinking-warm-beer if you take the one hour per drink rule seriously.) The object of a “Round” is to be a social person and share a beer with someone who then shares a beer with you. The number of Rounds that can be called for usually depends on the number of folks present. As noted above the basic Round is “gone” with at least two participants. Any more than two and there is a sub, or supra, level to the basic Round.

3) Three is a Party. Three beers, ordered and then served at the same time can be a “Round” but deserves the title of “Party”. Here is where politics was invented and the “Party” was hatched. (No cite…) The reason for this is the human dynamic to take sides. Should two people decide to take opposing sides to a topic it involves intense concentration in order to have the last word. Should you pause to take a sip of your brew the strain-of-thought might become too much and the refreshment and relaxing effect of the beverage take over rendering your point undefended and at the mercy of your partner in conversation. Beer, being a social lubricant, (see the above – “Round”) in any situation, becomes essential in a Party situation. As a three sided discussion is awkward, one member of the party can sip their brew at leisure while the other two members of the party go a round. (No, not the “R” word. Rather the “r” word – sparing or dueling.) The duration of that round depends on the thirst worked up by the non-sipping members of the party. This is where the most important rule can be invoked. This is the moment-of-silence when all members of the party pause to remember what it was they were talking about by raising their glasses in unison and finishing the contents in a synchronized manner. This rule is usually non-verbally invoked when it is time to go another Round.

Why do I stop at three reasons to drink beer?

Because it’s my turn to go a Round…


Peter LaFrance