Normally, this lede would be filled with some bit of esoteric ephemera wherein we'd compare the universe-building in the novels of Iain M. Banks to the lifestyle of the Hopi nation or some such, but we've been getting a little spacy lately, and I felt it was time to take it back to basics. If you want to talk katsina spirits and the socioeconomic theory of intangliation, come drinking with me some time, but for now, let's just talk beer.
"Saranac White IPA" is to "unfiltered" what "Bhut Jolokia" is to "spicy." Initial inspection may lead one to believe they have been served a melted ice cream float. The pints contents are the color of sand and muddy with wheat and yeast. Having almost no head, the beer looks almost too thick for bubbles to pass through. You expect it to be like drinking cream of wheat. Surprises make life worth living, in my opinion, and this white IPA arrives on the palate with citrusy refreshment instead of the expected textural crudeness. This pint of what looks more like chicha than beer turns out to be a strong candidate for future summer cookouts. Have you ever picked up what you thought would be a heavy box, and launched it halfway over your head because it was unexpectedly empty? The first sip is like that. This strange brew from Saranac is smooth and light, and may convince others you've lost your mind and are drinking laundry water, which is always fun. A little deeper digging reveals the hops are of the new Citra/X-114 variety, and the brewers have added not just orange peel and coriander, but oats to the mix. The ABV is a docile 6%, meaning having a few of these at someone's yard party won't make an eye-level introduction to the grass the way Imperial IPAs may.
Speaking of summery brews, I recently had a Weizen Pils from Abita, called SOS. This "Charitable Pilsner" gives off a classic aroma of Sterling and Perle hops from Germany, and is made with Pilsner and wheat malts. It's a dry, old-world pils with a kick at 7%, and offers that malty wheat sweetness alongside a small bitterness, in the eastern European style. It's more than that, though: Abita beers take their name from their water source, Abita Springs, in Lousiana. SOS takes it name from the "Save Our Shore" fund set up by Abita beer to assist with the rescue and restoration of the environment, industry and individuals fighting to survive in the wake of the disastrous BP oil spill. 75 cents from every beautifuly decorated 22oz. bottle sold go towards the effort, as well as 100% of the proceeds from SOS shirts and sundries available on the SOS site. [http://shop.abita.com/shop/sos/] Louisiana grabbed a hold of my mind and heart when I spent some time there as a teenager pre-Katrina, and the entire region has had some bum luck since. As a foodie site, we might all be especially aware of just how fantastic the gulf culture is, even if their local opinion is that no one from north of I-10 can cook worth a damn. It's a place worth supporting, and the glow of a beer buzz pairs well with that of charitable self satisfaction.
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace sounds like it's made with lip-tingling hot peppers or something, but it's far from that, and I've actually been meaning to tell you all about it for a while. Sorachi is actually a Japanese name, and a hop variety developed by Sapporo in the late 1980s by hybridizing British Brewer's Gold and Czech Saaz hops. Sorachi hops quietly came and went in Japan, but the boys at Brooklyn fell in love with them, and have brought back the variety in strikingly good looking corked bottles. A farmhouse ale style, Sorachi Ace is made with the rare hops, which are now only grown at a single farm in Oregon, fermented with a strain of Belgian yeast, hopped again after fermentation (a process called "dry hopping"), and re-fermented in-bottle with champagne yeasts.
An ultra pale, golden liquid is the result, with a froth which swells up like champagne, but lingers as a thick, rocky head. The aroma alone could smooth the rough edges off life. The bright, clean Pilsner malt and champagne yeast gather with the the zesty lemon character of the Sorachis, but there is an evenness to the proceedings. I've been to diplomatic functions less slick and dignified. This isn't the thunder and lightening of a Wagnerian IPA, it's more akin to a romantic Dvořák composition, bubbling along at a restrained but intent 34 IBUs. Brooklyn suggests pairing it with this good looking goat cheese and apple omelette. [http://brooklynbrewery.com/brooklyn-beers/parings/goat-cheese-apple-omelette]
To surprises, good deeds, and romance: cheers.