It is the end of the road for 2023. 31 more days until 2024 starts smacking us around. It has been a doozy. Strikes. Indictments. Wars. Inflation. And we are probably gonna run it back again. But, before you say we are doomed, we still have great craft beer and Christmas beers!
~ e-visits to (3) breweries from Craft Beer & Brewing’s Best of 2023
~ special featured reviews of beers if I find room amongst the seasonal beers.
~Heads-Up on Los Angeles Beer Events
~ Three suggested beers to buy this month. One light, one medium and one dark
~ A Book & A Beer reads Going Infinite by Michael Lewis
~ A Podcast & A Beer listens to NPR’s Book of the Day
~ Sports & A Beer returns with Where are all the Good QB’s?
~ New Beer Releases and Best Beers of the Month
~ I will tap the Firkin and give my no holds barred opinion on the craft beer world.
I have reviewed a pilsner and an IPA as possible Thanksgiving table choices and now it is time to do a dark beer, Pan A Flores from South Norte Brewing and it has a lot. Cajeta (caramel-esque) , cinnamon, Mexican chocolate and coffee.
This is a porter and not a stout so it doesn’t bog you down. Caramel and cinnamon is there with the coffee and Mexican Chocolate making cameos I would expect that different people would get stronger hits from different flavors depending on what people are more sensitive to. This may not play well with starters or cranberry but I think it would add pizazz to the turkey and stuffing for sure.
One, it is an oft repeated trope that Thanksgiving brings out the family blowhards who claim to not know that what they just said was beyond the pale (to put it lightly). To the point where pretty much everyone wishes the meal could be enjoyed in quiet.
Second is that like the blowhard, you can’t ignore IPA because it is everywhere for both good and bad. So we have to see if there is a way to wedge a good bitter hop charge with the turkey and stuffing.
That leads us to The Art of Quiet from noted SLO brewer Liquid Gravity.
Described on their website as, “Hopped with massive doses of Somcoe and Citra this clear hop nectar explodes with papaya, citrus and pine needles. A moderate bitterness helps keep this beer highly drinkable and each sip finishes dry, crisp and refreshing.”
Pours a bubbly light yellow. Could fool a person into thinking it’s a pilsner. And the aroma doesn’t give away the game too much either. First sip does reveal a goodly sized amount of bitterness but it has a secondary fruit juice flavor. Grapefruit and papaya for my tastebuds. Damn tasty West Coaster this.
I think this could work under the right circumstances. Turkey will not be a problem if it is the mainstay simple prep. If the stuffing isn’t spiced or the potatoes are not super buttered, this beer would work. I do think it would be a discordant note for other side hustles on the table though.
This month the reviews will be a bit expanded from the brief format I normally employ, by adding a simple “Would this work for Thanksgiving?” to it. Thanksgiving staples are generally prepared in a way that is, out with it, bland. Turkey, potatoes and rolls all need some dressing up as it were. So I want to choose beers that will add a note while also not adding to the bloat of eating too much. For further beverage ideas check out Lew Bryson’s Seen Through a Glass Thanksgiving episode.
The first up is Bamboo Pilsner by Oakland’s Dokkaebier.
I chose this because you want light against the heavy thud of spuds and tryptophan. Plus, hoping that the bamboo tea brings a contrasting note.
Pours a dark yellow for a pilsner. Aroma is very much tea with lemon citrus. First sip is really strong with tea. Really herbal. A bit too slick on the tongue for me. Could use a bit more poppy carbonation to it. The tea flavor is not in your English Breakfast arena. This is very much Asian. Woody and earthy with a bit of apple and pear to it.
It is too bold a flavor and not bubbly enough to cut against the grain. Interesting notes to spare but probably not with Thanksgiving foods.
We finish off the spooky beer reviews with the appropriately ghoulish label for Institution Ale Co. and their Fall Seasonal IPA which has been given the three descriptor treatment as Dank, Citrusy, Balanced.
Pours a very clear Halloween orange in the glass. First notes are of fruit punch and softness on the palate. The aroma is very, very red berry. Tastes much less than 7.1% abv for sure. Tilts more pale ale to me. There is a bit of woodsy, earthy bitterness in the background like a scarecrow.
As the can opens, that pumpkin spice aroma wafts up, thankfully there is a bit of actual gourd into it There is, on the negative side, a bit too much sweetness here and a weird metallic taste at the back end of it. For me, this needs a little something else to push it further. Maybe vanilla or a barrel-age to it. As is, it is quite fine but it is one of those where I wanted just a bit more.
I remember the first time having a Southern Tier Halloween themed beer. I was in NYC with my wife and ordered it. Was enjoying it before a platter of food as big as me arrived and then the beer was kinda forgotten. Years later, I saw an orphan bottle and grabbed it.
Warlock Imperial Pumpkin Stout is a mere 8.6% ABV. It has that American PSL thing going but behind the curtain is a nice and a bit chocolately stout. The pumpkin actually shines through as well as it warms. More gourdy than pie which is a plus in my book.
There are a few breweries who have leaned into the realm of spookiness, one of which is Oakland’s Ghost Town Brewing. Time to get Wretched.
Pours a hazy light yellow color. Has the requisite softness on the palate. Getting an interesting combination of Concord grape and an earthy bitterness. Crawled out from underground as it were. There is a bit of a lemon underlaying the proceedings and I get that scratchy fuzzy mouthfeel at the end.
It has been big news that Modelo has overtaken Bud Light in recent months as best selling beer in the U.S. Will it stay king of the hill, who knows. Maybe Bud Light will stop shooting themselves in the foot and regain the top selling spot.
Until then, best to taste the beer and see for myself.
Looks real pretty in the bottle. Lovely bright yellow. The aroma is classic pilsner. Gave me a memory of being at a baseball game. This has a good taste to it. Has a bit of a cross between a pilsner and a Mexican lager to it which gives it a bit more complexity than you have in your Industrial pilsner. It also isn’t as super watery as that ilk. Which makes me a little hopeful that the flavor is taking hold of the American palate.
Next Oregon beer review is Ferment Brewing’s Summer IPA. Described as, “Summer IPA offers big citrus and mango hop character in a refreshing unfiltered golden ale topped with a billowy head of foam.”
From the “top ferment” series at the Columbia River waterfront brewery, this IPA has a bright citrus aromatic profile along with a Saison-y first sip flavor. Tang meets Belgium. The mango comes in after the orange for a big one-two fruit punch. Bitterness plays a minor key in this but it is the note that lingers at the end.