Friday Froth: IPA's, Wheat Beer & A Lotta Hops

James Gribbon

Hello, and welcome to Friday Froth: the weekly beer column designed to tempt, inform, and share the joy I find in discovering great brews. A quick introduction:

There are limitless possibilities to beer. By that, I mean not just different styles like lagers, ales, stouts and barley wines (very much a winter beer, btw), but all the variations possible within those styles. Budweiser's a lager, but comparing it to Brooklyn lager is like comparing me to Lebron James because we're both human males. This column is identical in theme to the rest of CTbites, i.e., "Here are some new flavors, aromas and sensations you may like to try."

Many people now recognize and enjoy Blue Moon, a Belgian White style beer made by Coors. Most beers are made primarily from barley, but Belgian white, or witbier, is made from both wheat and barley. The wheat proteins that remain in the finished beer give it a slightly cloudy appearance with a whitish tinge. It’s a derivative of medieval beers, which were spiced instead of preserved using hops, as in modern beer, and these older beers were often flavored with fruit as well, which is why the style goes so well with a slice of orange.

If you like Blue Moon, keep an eye out for St. Bernardus Witbier from Watou, Beglium - one of the originators of the style from which macro-brews like Blue Moon are derived. 

I recently had a chance to try an Oskar Blues Gordon. It’s a Double IPA, or Imperial Red, as the brewery likes to call it. They also call it a “Velvet M-80,” if that tells you anything. Oskar Blues, out of Colorado, is one of the few craft brewers to sell its beer in cans. They do this because their cans: 1) have less air seepage, which oxidizes and skunks beers, 2) are impermeable to light, saving further damage, 3) have a water-based inside coating, so no metallic taste is transferred, and 4) weigh less, saving on fuel needed in shipping and reducing the brewery’s carbon footprint compared to the heft of glass bottles. 

Gordon has a brownish red appearance, on the transparent side of translucent, with a light head that dissipated into a light film with a slight lace on the glass. The aroma is distinctly fruity, and redolent of cherries. It has a smooth mouth feel with moderate carbonation. There is a light sweetness to the flavor that is just noticeable on the tip of the tongue, but the beer has a surprising hoppiness that sneaks in and stays, earning it that IPA appellation. As a double, Gordon is brewed with a great deal of fermentable grain sugars, and clocks in at 8% alcohol, explaining the “M-80” descriptor, but the alcohol is undetectable in the flavor. Complex and interesting, every sip makes you think and dwell on what it is you taste. 

There are many great beers out there, and in such stunning variety that there’s literally something out there for everyone, even for those who think they don’t like it. Those of us who know we enjoy beer often get into a rut, and continually drinking the same thing is like only eating one food- there’s no thought, no zest to it. A portion of your life that should be filled with enjoyment blows by like a stale breeze. Who wants that? Let’s live a little lustier, shall we? Harpoon Brewery has a great slogan: “Love life, love beer.” I think that about sums it up.