Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Party Beer Descriptions

For several years now, I have brewed multiple batches of beer for a good friend's summer party.  The party is a definite highlight of the summer for me, with an opportunity to see old friends and to enjoy fresh seafood and good beer.  John and I have a good deal of fun picking out the beer styles and brewing them together.  I am also tasked with writing some tasting notes that get posted behind the tap handles.  I took a slightly historical bent in writing this years descriptions and I thought that our readers might enjoy seeing them.




Havana Flower Cedar-Aged India Pale Ale – American-style India Pale Ales (IPA) exist solely to push as much hop flavor and aroma into a glass as is humanly possible.  They were historically brewed to resist degradation over the long sea voyage between Britain and India.  They fell out of favor with British brewers until the style was saved and rejuvenated in the American Craft Beer industry.  While this IPA features the strong citrus characters found in American hops, it also contains another twist – it was aged on Spanish cedar wood.  Cedar has a wonderful aromatic quality and is usually associated with cigars and hope chests.  The alcohol in the beer extracts those aromas, as well as interesting sandalwood and cinnamon flavors.  We hope you enjoy the marriage between the wood of Havana and the flowers of the hop – Havana Flower IPA.
6.4% alcohol     IBU: 64     OG: 1.060     FG: 1.012

Rainy Day Robust Porter – Porter was once the most popular beer style brewed in the United Kingdom.  The style originated in and around London in the 18th Century and was a dark strong ale manufactured exclusively from brown, highly-kilned malts.  These malts were dried over wood fires and likely had a strong smoky flavor.  Porter was highly hopped for the time and was blended between new batches and older soured batches, resulting in a complex flavor profile favored by the British.  The blending took place in large vats, which were associated with one devastating industrial accident that flooded Giles Parish, London in 1814 with 125,000 gallons of beer in a 15 foot tidal wave, injuring many.  Modern day porters are divided into three sub styles, with robust porter containing a roast character that puts it halfway to a stout.  Robust porters also feature a balancing dark chocolate flavor and smooth aftertaste.  Our example was brewed during a thunderstorm that broke on top of us as the boil ended.  Rainy Day Robust Porter is sure to sooth your rainy day worries away.
7.1% alcohol     IBU: 37     OG: 1.069    FG: 1.016

Last Minute Rush Belgian Pale Ale – Belgium was once described by the famous beer writer, Michael Jackson, as the “Disneyland of Beer.”  The small nation has an expansive beer history, ranging from beer brewed in monasteries for Lenten fasting to beer brewed for thirsty farmhands in the heat of summer.  Flavor profiles range all over the spectrum, from fruity, to spicy, to smooth and clean.  Some of the more famous Belgian Pale Ales are associated with the City of Antwerp.  They feature a wonderful balance of Belgian yeast spiciness and smooth drinkability.  The style has much to offer the Maryland crab connoisseur, with the slightly spicy aroma complimenting the Old Bay spice on the crab, but the smooth aftertaste washing some of the heat away.  The recipe was associated with a last minute dash brew day to get the beer on tap and we hope that you will not rush through its complex but clean flavor profile.
4.9% alcohol     IBU: 25     OG: 1.047     FG: 1.010

Tater Tots Vienna Lager – Germany is arguably the originator of almost all recognized lager beer styles.  Lager, which translates roughly to “cold storage,” occurred because of the invention of different malting processes that produced pale malt, and by extension, pale beer.  A mutated ale yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, thrived in the colder temperatures that the pale beers were stored and produced a beverage with a cleaner and drier flavor than the dark ales of the time.  The light clear beer, when viewed through glass mugs that were also becoming more available, made lager an instant phenomenon.  The malt produced around the City of Vienna had a bready and slightly sweet flavor and was kilned darker than the malt in other areas.  The resulting lager beer was amber in color and featured a wonderful malt grainy softness, making it an excellent companion to food.  Our Vienna lager’s name has nothing to do with the beer, the brewday, or any significant event.  It is rumored to have this name because John thinks it is the beer that his girlfriend Mary will like the most.  Since Mary has done a little Tater Tot bashing on her blog ( - oh and you can also buy her book through the main site), John decided he would really like to hear her say "I really like Tater Tots the best, I would like some more and give some to my friends."  Again, this is just a rumor.
5.6% alcohol     IBU: 26    OG: 1.056     FG: 1.014

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