Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 20
Interesting new beers
Jan. 18, 2001
Recently released new beers that you may want to look for:
- North Coast Brewing Co.'s Old Stock Ale. The Fort Bragg, Calif., brewery
made just 1,200 cases ... then challenged beer drinkers to wait a year to
enjoy the beer.
Stock ales have an fascinating place in brewing history. Before
refrigeration, it was hard to make good beer in the summer months, so in the
winter breweries would produce large stocks of beer for use in summer. They
would mix newly brewed summer beer with a small portion of the strong winter
beer to quickly make the summer beer ready for drinking before it began to
acquire off flavors. If any of the stock ale was still around when brewing
resumed in October it could then be served by itself, and was known as an
North Coast Stock Ale is a huge beer, with an original gravity of over 1.110.
It is made from floor-malted Maris Otter Pale Malt and Fuggles hops, both
from England. It's vintage dated, and the brewery suggests cellaring the beer
for a year to let complex flavors develop.
- It almost seems as if organic beers have come full circle with the arrival
of Samuel Smith Organic Ale and Organic Lager from England. The beers are
imported by Merchant du Vin in Seattle. The company was the first to bring
organic beer to the United States when it began importing Pinkus Muller Ur
Pils, Munster Alt and Hefe-Weizen in 1979.
Even though organic barley costs 30% more than ordinary grain and organic
hops are two to three times more expensive organic beers have enjoyed a surge
in popularity along with organic foods.
Samuel Smith's organic beers receive organic certification from the
prestigious Soil Association, the UK's leading organization for organic food
and farming. The Samuel Smith Old Brewery uses only Soil
Association-certified, organically grown malted barley and aromatic hops in
the production of the beers. Samuel Smith Organics are available in
18.7-ounce "Yorkshire pints."
- The newest seasonal from New Belgium Brewing Co. is called Biere De Mars
and its ethereal label lives up to the description that Belgian-born and
trained brewmaster Peter Bouchaert gives the beer. "Picture rolling hills,
brick farmhouses and an area once rich in mining," he said. "I want you to
visualize the organic architecture of Victor Horta, a curving banister with
soft light falling from the window. This is what we tried to put into the
Bottle-conditioned, it was inspired by the southern Belgian/northern French
beers that celebrate the half-winter, half-spring month of March. It's brewed
with barley, oats and wheat malt, includes orange peel and a wild yeast
strain is added for bottle conditioning. The beer pours to a hazy orange hue,
has a light malty fruitiness and a refreshing citrusy finish.
FULLER'S OLD WINTER ALE
Brewed by Fuller's Brewery in London
Michael Jackson's tasting notes:
The brewer renowned for its London Pride and Extra Special Bitter offers a
malty Winter Ale, at 5.3 per cent. It has a dark orange colour and Fuller's
typical interplay of appetising flavours: in this case, fruity yeastiness;
earthy, herbal hoppiness; and a big, firm, nutty, sweetness that suggests
crystal malt. Slips down with perilous ease. My choice to welcome this new
year, at my local pub. This has the Fuller's range on draft, cask-conditioned
and beautifully kept. The pub, which I shall not identify, is in a west
London neighborhood less than a mile from the brewery. Fuller's
bottled-conditioned Vintage Ale, at 8.5 per cent, is yet fruitier, with a
grapefruit-like note reminiscent of American hops; astonishingly lively,
slightly winey, flavours; and a creamy maltiness.
GRAY'S OATMEAL STOUT
Brewed by Gray's Brewing Co. in Janesville, Wis.
Tasting notes from Roger Protz:
Classic in every way -- deep brown-black color with a ruby edge. Tart,
slightly sour and lactic aroma with a deep grainy note from the oats. Chewy
malt in the mouth with creamy oats making their presence felt and a hop
prickle on the tongue. The finish is bittersweet and complex with hints of
tart fruit, licorice and spicy hops. A well-crafted and deeply refreshing