This month’s Session is all about Pale Ales. Hosted by The Beer Babe: She asks:
“Your mission — if you choose to accept it — it so seek out and taste two different pale ales. Tell us what makes them special, what makes them forgettable, what makes them the same or what makes them different. Then, share it with us.”
I had a bottle of Fuller’s London Pride and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I also talk a bit about pale ales in general, why we as beer geeks tend not to take them too seriously, and why we perhaps should. Check out the video below.
(Any beer bloggers watching this video should definitely check out the Youtube beer community if you haven’t already. There are some great channels out there doing some pretty incredible beer reviews. Likewise, any beertubers out there who haven’t plugged in to the beer blog community are missing out, as well.)
There must have been an issue with the hop harvests last year, at least in the midwest. Nearly all of the fresh-hop beers that I saw reviews of last year seemed a little lackluster and bland. While I ended up giving the 2010 Founders Harvest Ale a B+ overall, I definitely didn’t think it was all it could be.
I don’t want to bother shooting another review for this one, but I wanted to give the 2011 a shake.
Even just starting the pour I can smell the nice fresh resiny hops. Beautiful floral notes, some nice pine background. Almost like a Christmas tree. I’m more attuned to hops than I was last year, but I suspect it’s definitely a more pungent hop aroma.
Ditto for the flavor. A bit more earthy, but with those definite pine and floral resins. Slight golden malt backbone provides just a tiny bit of sweetness, but this beer is definitely a showcase for hops. At 6.5% it’s not quite as big as a traditional IPA, nor is it quite as heavily bittered, but drinking this beer less than two weeks after bottling (bottling date: 09/22/2011) definitely fulfills my hop quota.
If the 2010 bottling was a B+, this is an A-, maybe even an A. Ridiculously drinkable as well. Drink it fresh or don’t drink it at all.
Beyond the Pour grade: A-
I just sat down to review Back Forty Blind Pig Pale Ale for the vlog, and got as far as aroma before feeling that something was very “off” about the product. Strong syrupy sweetness, off-aromas (and flavors), and just a generally “homebrew” kind of quality, not the kind I’d anticipate from a professional brewer.
Normally I’d have gone ahead and done the review anyway, but since Back Forty was only founded a couple of years ago, and has only been bottling at their current location for a few months, I stopped the review. There are all kinds of reasons that a new brewery might not be making excellent beer, and getting a bottling line up, running, and perfected is a herculean task. I’ve tasted this kind of syrupy sourness from several brand new breweries playing around with bottles for the first time, and in many cases those kinks get worked out as the makers stretch their legs a bit.
So yeah, for me, I feel it’s a bit unfair to review the beer in this state. Sure, if it’s being sold commercially I have the right to talk about its shortcomings, but beating up on a new brewery while they’re still getting up and running just feels mean-spirited. Especially reviewing for Youtube, where my review would likely be the only one posted for months or years, and even after their hypothetical issues are corrected the video would likely still stand.
Maybe I’ll pick up some more of this beer next time I’m down south and give it another shot. If it still tastes like this in a year or two, it’s worth giving the knowledge out. But for now… not so much.
This blog post? Well, maybe someone at the brewery will see it and know that there are some technical issues with their beer. And if this is how they intend the beer to taste, then next time I have it I’ll give it the low grade it deserves.
I’d love to get some feedback on this issue if anyone’s interested.
Sorry this vlog is so long, but I had a whole lot to talk about this time. As you can tell by how fast I talk in the vid.
First, I’m changing the brand I’m using for my beer reviews, to something that people can actually say. From now on instead of Zymurgical Explorations (which I rarely say in the vids anyway) it’ll be “Beyond the Pour.” To this end, I’ve also registered this domain. I’ll be doing text reviews and other beer-related content there as well as posting vids, so I welcome all to continue to check it out.
Second, I talk about Viewer Request Month and the various things that entailed. It was fun, but a lot of work, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to everyone’s request. If I missed your review and you’re not mentioned in text in the video, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see if I can get your beer done at some point. I’m always taking requests, so even if you didn’t email me during the project please feel free to send me a request even now.
I’ll be going on vacation from August 7-14, so this space will go dark during that period. I’ll be uploading the final four videos to get to #250 before I leave, and when I get back I’ll finally get around to doing all the beers I got in beer mails during the last couple of months. This includes all the beers sent by Chad and Lee.
Finally I give a shout-out to two new beer reviewers who have contacted me lately. Tommy actually game to visit me in the area (although unfortunately our schedules didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped) and Mr. Grim Viking has given me several shout-outs lately, so I figured I’d return the favor.
Whew! All that in thirteen minutes! I should have just shot two vlogs.