Upon hearing that August 5th is International Beer Day I immediately told Krista I was hijacking her blog and rushed off to Total Wine to get some beers worth blogging about. International Beer Day. I just love the sound of that. It is like a holiday designed especially for guys. The ladies get Valentine’s Day, we get International Beer Day. Everybody wins! This really needs to be a worldwide holiday that everyone gets off. And it should be followed by International Hangover Recovery Day, which of course you would take off for as well. I will personally vote for either presidential candidate if they campaign behind this issue – I don’t think I’m alone here. Sure the economy can use some help, but in the interim – here, have an incredible new beer from a country you can’t afford to visit until it does. Sounds like a winner to me.
Anyway, let me tell you what I bought, how I liked it and give you a little beer education along the way. It just might help you win the next trivia game you play, unless you are drinking these babies as you’re playing <grin>.
Mexico – I love the joy of discovery. Finding something cool and new, refreshing and different is a huge thrill for me. So when I saw a bottle of beer with a pale green chili floating in it I knew I had to try it right away. The bottle in question was called Cave Creek Chili Beer and it just so happened we were having burritos for dinner. Some might call it coincidence; I believe it was fate.
Growing up in Southern California, I have a particular fondness for Mexican beers that probably has very little to do with their taste and a lot to do with the ease with which we could get them. This led me to distain my now normal routine of pouring the beer into a glass to check the head and fully appreciate the aroma. Instead I reverted to my younger days and drank it straight from the bottle after setting aside the chili momentarily. As a result I don’t know what kind of head it had, but I can tell you that even through the small bottle opening you could tell this was NOT going to be a normal beer. The smell of the chili overrode almost all natural beer smell and promised a drink with a kick to it.
And kick it does, although I’m about as white as they come – I like some heat in my food. That is a good thing because this beer is definitely not for people who think that medium salsa is too hot. One of the things that makes this beer so interesting though is that the fire fades after you swallow it. Unlike most spicy items where the heat lingers long after the food is gone, the aftertaste here is all beer – and a very nice one at that. It is light with just a hint of lime, no noticeable hop bite, and a perfect touch of carbonation.
After finishing the beer I was left looking at the remaining chili, in very much the same way you look at the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle. Eating it doesn’t seem like a good idea, but you know you have to do it anyway. Luckily, all of the heat the chili once possessed must have passed into the beer because the chili was delicious and mild (even with the seeds).
While I can’t say that I would buy this to drink on its own, it is an ideal beer to drink while eating some fantastic Mexican food. Hell, it could even class up some Taco Bell if you still live somewhere where good Mexican isn’t a possibility.
Germany – The next beer I tried, Hofbrau Munchen Hefe Weizen, was a wheat beer from Germany. Germany is famous for their beer purity law that originally stated that beer could contain nothing other than barley, water and hops. Although beer can be made with just about any grain, barley was originally specified so that there would be enough wheat and rye for the bakers. Yeast was omitted from the original list because it tended to grow naturally and mixed in with the barley, so it wasn’t considered an actual ingredient in the making of beer. Of course, they know better now and have since amended the law to include yeast and sugar. They have also allowed the inclusion of other grains since there is enough of everything to go around.
One of the things that continually astounds me is how many different flavors and types of beer can be created with just those few simple ingredients. The Hofbrau Muchen is a perfect example of this. Normally wheat beers are often brewed with coriander and orange peel to create a beer that is light and refreshing. German hefe weizens can’t use those ingredients though, so what you get here is decidedly different.
The pour reveals a beer with a beautiful golden haze that is largely opaque with a thin white head that dissipated quickly leaving behind just hint of lacing (that wonderful foam that stays on the side of the glass as you drink it). The aroma of the beer conjures images of fresh mowed lawns and biscuits straight from the oven topped with honey. All of this pales compared to the taste though. The light carbonation and wheat give it a light fresh feel in the mouth, but the real surprise is the touch of sweetness. It is hard to describe but after swallowing a mouthful of this beer you get an extremely pleasant aftertaste that reminds you of banana and spices. This is a huge testimony to the creativity of the brewers and the incredible choices they made with the yeast strain and what I assume to be Belgian candy sugar. This is a GREAT beer!
Canada – For the last beer of the day I chose a great offering by the extremely consistent Unibroue brewery in Canada. The beer, Don de Dieu, is an example of the Belgian Triple style. This is one of my all-around favorite styles as they generally appear light but are extremely flavorful. Triples also typically have a higher than normal alcohol content and the Don de Dieu is no exception, coming in at a, “you really don’t notice it until you stand up,” 9%.
The beer pours a fantastic golden color permeated with a slight haze. It has a beautiful white fluffy head that was two fingers high and smelled of wheat, sunshine and a little bit of heaven. The taste followed suit with just a hint of spice and citrus lingering after the beer went down. Canada is largely known for their major brewery offerings, which while being generally good beers – rarely reach the point of being exceptional. Do yourself a favor and try anything Unibroue makes. You will not be disappointed.
Due to the fact that I am a lightweight and neither of my children particularly wants to see their father stumble around the house I am breaking this blog into two separate posts. I will post the second tonight after I have had a chance to recover a little and start drinking again.
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