Friday Froth: Lesson Learned

James Gribbon

Your average lemur makes a terrible manservant. Don't ever waste a summer trying. It takes them forever to drag a beer from one room to the next, and you'd think they have dexterous little hands, but I found their laundry folding skills to be incredibly sub-par. Exotic animal friends can be both time consuming and delicious, but a Cornish game hen provides the latter with no need of training or a wee tuxedo. Unless well-dressed poultry is your thing, you monster. But let's put aside whatever predilections you have for Capon in chapeau and return to our subject, shall we? 

In the upper midwest (where the men are men and the women are frozen to something) sits Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has an area of 45.3 sq. mi., is home to the Frederick Meijer Gardens, the DeVos Place Convention Center and many other places you've read about both here and on Wikipedia if you've never been to the place and need something to write about it in your beer column. TRANSITION It is also home to Founders Brewing Company, one of the more significant craft breweries in the United States, at the northeast side of which you can spy Connecticut, where Founders beers can now be, um... found. 

Their website, which graciously offers a simple "21? Y/N" clickwall instead of requiring you to write whatever bullshit digits fit a birth date field like most booze sites, (and seriously, people: I hate those like Tim Gunn hates cargo shorts), anyway their website offers info on the brand's history, its medals from the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Fest, and information on how you too can commute via hovercraft. Probably. I don't know, I didn't read the whole thing.

What I have been drinking most of when that damnable ring-tailed primate could get off its nocturnal ass and get me one, was their Dry Hopped Pale Ale. There is fantastic citrusy aroma of Cascade hops to this brew, floating invisibly above a perfectly Amber with a capital "A" pour. The malt has some muscle to it, and there are small specks of suspended yeast swirling around in there, but those Cascades come through in a light bitterness representing just a tweak to the taste buds. At 35 IBUs, this is just enough to raise an approving eyebrow from an unsuspecting hop head, but not pearl-clutching territory for the set who likes to keep their beer "Lite." And the grains become quite pronounced if one lets this one warm up to cellar temps. Kudos to Founders on this one. Highly recommended for fridge, travel cooler, or straight from the navel of your new Javanese cup-bearer. Your call.

Another of the year-round offerings from Founders is their Red's Rye PA. This one pours a deep, garnet red owing to the beautifully roasted Belgian Caramel and rye malts, and there is very little head or, surprisingly, aroma. The flavors in this beer are burly and come crashing in like a rugby team hitting the bar post-match. The grain sweetness of the barley malts hits first and lays down a base flavor which is punctured almost immediately by 70 IBUs worth of Amarillo hops, with a finish of that dry, crisp rye malt. This is a serious beer with a lot going on. 

Since the only way to get a direct flight anywhere these days requires access to private aircraft, you may find yourself spending some time in Utah as you make your way back to the east coast after fleeing Java, as one does. Skipping from one religious enclave to another brings with it visions of the cruel specter of sobriety, but I suggest exorcising that particular demon with a large bottle of Epic Brewing Rio's Rompin' Rye. 

A relaxation of Utah's prohibitionist legislation in recent history has brought with it a small number of very interesting brews. No less than seven malts and grains go into this small batch, local beer, and Epic fiddles with the recipe of every batch. I had batch #14, and THAT is what I mean by a maddening clickwall. 

The rye mixes with the hops to produce an aroma that, if not overly powerful, is certainly abundant, over a sticky, rocky head. There is an excellent body here with a beautifully smooth mouth feel, and Rio's Rompin' is spicy with rye malts and prickly carbonation. The Mt. Hood, Sterling and Tettnag hops whirl together in an earthy way, devoid of the citrus or piney flavors so commonly found in west coast style beers. This is an excellent elixir to settle the nerves after your cup bearer reports she's found no mention of your name on INTERPOL's website. Pip pip.

A few stray points worth noting:

- Did you know beer is good for your skin? Yep.  

- Garrett Oliver, the foodie/brewmaster behind Brooklyn Brewery, wrote an excellent piece this week on some of the more egregious crimes against beer currently being committed by the restaurant industry. When someone tells me they "have every kind of beer" I have to make an effort to keep from giving them this look

- Speaking of Brooklyn Brewery and food, I can highly recommend the Monster/Stilton pairing.

Have a great weekend, all.