Friday Froth: Different Shades Of Green

James Gribbon

Welly, well, well, my drinking droogies - what's it going to be then, eh? Me? I'm going hybrid for the holiday, and downing a few pints of Black Velvet (I like to make it equal parts Guinness and champagne). It certainly does chase the grey away. But we can't rush into things, oh no. The sight of the crowds, of too much Kelly green, too fast - especially when contrasted with tanning bed orange - presents a shock to the system few mortals can bear. Thus it was that I decided to ease up and down and through a palette of greens in the Costa Rican jungle. To prepare myself for St. Patrick's Day, you see. 

It's a strange feeling, while sipping a cold beer in a palm hut, to find you somehow have wifi. The distraction provided by the ability to check the score of the UConn game is occasionally a welcome one, though, since Costa Rican beers are nearly as indistinguishable from one another as they are terrible. They don't merit much expatiation, so on to the bullet points:

Imperial: this is the ubiquitous national beer of Costa Rica. An entire wall of the airport in the capital of San Jose is taken up by a giant ad for it. 99.9999...% of Tico beer is yellow and fizzy, so let's just take that as a given. The taste of Imperial is best described by comparing it to Schaefer (for our more senior readers) or, for those more in my own age group, a frosty can of Natural Ice, cracked at a summer cookout, after having been re-cooled from another cookout the year before. Try the Imperial Silver instead, which tastes like the above, just passed through a Brita filter. 

Pilsen: See "Imperial."

Colonia: is like Imperial, mixed with PBR, and strained through a very small portion of rice pudding. It can be a nice change up after a solid week of Imperial, plus, Colonia has foil caps on the cans like an Aranciata, so one is afforded the luxury of being able to peel off the road dust collected thereupon. We drank these white and red cans with our pinkies extended, as befits so fancy a beverage.

Rock Ice: No. Just... no.

Aaaand... that's about it. Those are your options unless, after having found a unicorn, you walk into a bar in Costa Rica brave enough to take a gamble on the country's one fledgling brand of craft brew. In which case I'd recommend Libertas, a passable try at an American blonde ale, or Segua, which my banker thought may have been kin to George Killian.  

So if you go - and, seriously, do - drink whatever, ignore it for the most part, and focus instead on the view of a two mile long beach where sand slopes in a gentle brown band down to the Pacific, and waves roll toward land in corduroy rows, their perfectly tubular breaks rushing outward, pushed by crashing foam towards the points where mountains dip their toes in the surf. Beer, normally one of life's critical considerations, suddenly fades in importance. 

What else has been on my radar:

- From Patrick to Saltan: Magic Hat has released its Saint Saltan, a light drinking Leipzig-style gose beer brewed with salt and Coriander. Look for it when you see the brewery's spring variety packs popping up near you. If you live near Danbury then you're especially lucky, because next week Fairgrounds by the mall will receive its shipment of Goseator, double-strength gose aged in tequila barrels, from B. United. I've asked them where else it will be available, because I would eat a cereal bowl full of cobwebs to get my hands on something with that description. I'll try and let you know, either here or on my Twitter

- From salt to pepper: New England Brewing of Woodbridge has mashed in their Scrumtrulescent peppercorn-aged saison, so it should be flowing from the taps at discerning New Haven and Fairfield County beer bars in a month or so. Keep a sharp eye out this one, especially if you missed the limited release of Weyerbacher Seventeen.

From saint to saint, from saison to saison... I recently had a pint of de Wildeman Farmhouse IPA from Flying Dog. This is a new year round offering with a bit of a sour citrus aroma floating off its snowy head. A more traditional citrusy hop flavor initially dominates a very pure, clean mouthfeel, but those Belgian yeasts float around afterward and make noticeable gains in the profile as the beer warms slightly and the flavors jostle each other like kids in a cafeteria lunch line. Still, this is a more subtle Belgian IPA than Flying Dog's Raging Bitch - the hops less antagonistic, the overall gestalt more mellow. The yeast loses depth of character in a beer like this if it's served too cold, so I'd suggest taking it out of the fridge for ten minutes or so before serving, ideally in a tulip glass. Watch both your ass and your glassware around this Wildeman, though, becomes he comes on strong at nearly 8%. Flying Dog beers are not difficult to find, but they make it even easier by helpfully providing a beer locator on their web site. 

Part of my last night out of the country was spent on a mountaintop near Ballena, Costa Rica, where my twin loves of beer and cosmology dovetailed before my eyes, and I saw my very first green flash. Here's to the green: sláinte!