Sunday, November 2, 2008

Before I let the election get in the way too much, I thought I would make my first real Beer post. Not that Sierra Nevada needs anymore propaganda from the likes of me. And I am happy to report that this post will likely turn most of you off to the beer blog, as it is very unlikely that you will be able to get any of this beer for yourselves.

I have absolutely no idea what form these beer reviews will take. My hope is that by not sticking to an exact formula, I will be able to post about more beer. Too often, we let perfection get in the way of actually doing things. That is shocking coming from someone like me, but it is true. Sometimes you just have to put it out there, and not worry if it is ready or not. You can always fix it later. 

The first beer I want to tell you about is from the Sierra Nevada Brewery, in Chico, California. I am sure you have all had their Pale Ale. This is their 12th Release, Harvest Wet Hop Ale. It was recommended to me by the beer guy at my local liquor store, and if I had a will to include the man in, I would. This is the first time that their wet hop ale has been available outside of California. You had to go to a bar out there to get some, as it was only available in kegs. It was only bottled this time in 24 oz. bottles, and they retailed for $4.99 each. A steep price to pay maybe, but it is less than you would pay for a good beer at a bar, and truly worth the price. I went back twice to get more, and only stopped buying it then so as not to deprive others of this very special beer. Yes, this beer brought out the Socialist in me.

What makes this beer so special? So expensive? So exclusive? Wet hops. Apparently, almost all beer is made with dry hops - that is, the hops are picked and dried before they are used to make the beer. But this beer is different. The hops are harvested and within 24 hours they are being used to make the beer. It might seem a little silly, but this beer proves that it makes a big difference.

When my wife saw the notes I had made while drinking this fine brew, she asked if I had taken up writing poetry as a hobby. I am happy to report that I had never even thought of something like that - I am 100% certain that any poetry I create would be poor at best. But I can see others waxing nostalgic after trying some of this tasty, hoppy goodness.

COLOR: This beer is of the most beautiful Golden Red that I have ever seen in a beer. It is dark but not cloudy at all. You can see right through it, but you won't look at anything on the other side. I took four (8) pictures trying to capture its essence. Not even Monet had this color on his palette.

SMELL: I like hoppy beers. Some people don't, and that's ok. But my taste buds have been scarred over the years, and they need to be smacked in order to have flavors register. Hoppy beers seem to be the key. You can definitely smell the difference that the wet hops make in this beer. There is a freshness in the smell of this beer - I felt as though I were right there in the fields at the harvest, grabbing a big handful of hops and rubbing them all over myself. It was as wonderful as you can imagine.

TEXTURE: Just a wonderful pour from this bottle. Looking up at the head from underneath the glass, I saw a beautiful blanket of bubbles that was as consistent and even as could be. It looked like your unshoveled yard after a heavy snowfall. And while I don't think anyone would want to drink more than 3 or 4 of these at a time, they really weren't that heavy. There was a very smooth finish to the beer.

TASTE: If it were possible to drink a color, drinking this beer would like drinking a red-brown crayon. There was a crunch to the taste too - it was crispy but not too sweet. Again, I felt like the wet hops were right there in my hand, and that I could chew on them while the migrant workers finished their labor for the day. I was left with a feeling of complete and total satisfaction. 

VERDICT: Um, in case you haven't been able to gather yet, I really likes this beer. But how do we properly judge beer? This may be a bit of a moving target as I get into this blog more, but one way we can judge a beer is by deciding how much to buy. For this one, I recommend you go out and get at least 2 bottles, if you are fortunate enough to find any. My local liquor store is just about out - they said that it was unlikely that they could get any more from the distributor because the employees there were probably taking it all. But if you can, pick up two bottles. If you don't like the first one, you can always give the second to me.

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