Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday's Beer Tasting at Sycamore: Hefeweizens and IPA's

Monday was yet another installment of the Columbia Beer Enthusiasts' monthly beer tastings. Two of my favorite styles were represented: Hefeweizens and India Pale Ales (IPA). Hefeweizens, wheat beers, wits, what have you give me something to drink during the summer months without giving in to lagers and pilsners. IPA's are just overwhelming with flavor. Somehow the raised level of hops provides a sweet, caramel-like flavor contrasted by a dry, bitter finish that makes your realize this is more than just a beer. It was sure to be a happy tasting.

The problem arose as the wheat beers just kept coming. Like I said, I like hefeweizens. They're lemony and refreshing. Their dryness makes them a more refined version choice than the great American lager. But they just kept coming and coming and coming. Like last month's lager tasting, I was worn out on wheat. The flavors began to run together. I never thou
ght hefeweizens could overpower IPA's, but they nearly did.

Something needs to be done to rectify this situation. Tasting twenty to thirty
different beers in a night is an assault on the taste buds. I love the variety of folks who show up for these tastings, but all that beer is just too much. We should either agree to bring a limited number of beers or order from a list. I'd even be willing to chip in the $15-20 I usually spend on my contributions to have a small selection of beers shipped in for the tasting. It's just a thought.

Anyway, back to the beer. There was an impressive amount of variety from the hefeweizens. Jolly Pumpkin's Calabaza Blanca really stood out with its wild fermentation resulting in a mouthful of sour. This might be the first official sour beer I've taste or at least of which I am aware. Another highlight was the Southern Tier Heavy Weizen which I brought. "Heavy" was the perfect descriptor for this beer with a complexity not often found in a wheat.

As the hefeweizens started to run together, I expected the IPA's to take control of my taste buds. Surprisingly, the buds were even too tired for some hoppy goodness. Luckily, a few standouts made the tasting. I finally got to taste Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA. "Alcohol-icious
" is how I'd describe this beer. There is no need to even start the evening off with the hard stuff if you have a 120 in hand. The 120 Minute was everything it was hyped to be: caramel, super high alcohol content, and enough bitter to please. By far, this was the standout of the evening.

A few other IPA's made take notice as well. After hearing about it forever ago, Three Floyds' Dreadnaught had that hoppy sweetness I crave, plus it had to be strong in order to stand out after 90 minutes and 20 beers had passed. My friend J brought the New Glarus Hop Hearty and Russian River Brewing's Blind Pig. Both are excellent beers and are spicy, malty versions of my favorite style. Maharaja by Avery Brewing was more my style, but I had to go without my favorite IPA's of all-time: Bells Hop Slam (out of season) and Stone Ruination IPA (already made an appearance two tastings ago).

The next tasting is scheduled for September 22nd. Scotch, amber, and brown ales will be on full display. Unfortunately, this will most likely land in the middle of baby time in my household. If you're interested, J will cover the proceedings at Make Mine Potato, Scott will give his thoughts at Show Me Eats, and, as always, all the latest beer drinking information (in COMO anyway) can be found at the Columbia Beer Enthusiasts website.

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