Friday, June 29, 2007
Recently-promoted beer afficionado Bob requested yet another "lawnmower" beer since here in Michigan we have had an unusually-long stretch of hot, sunny weather. For whatever my lawn suffers, my palate certainly won't.
Today's selection is an American Pale Ale. These are amazingly refreshing, hoppy beers with a clean taste. The higher carbonation and balanced hoppiness make these beers feel quite refreshing...like the beer version of what lemonade does to you.
Today's lovely selection is Great Lakes Brewing Company's Burning River Pale Ale.
This lovely beer pours a lovely amber color with a lovely (but not too fluffy) head which clings all over the glass like thick lace curtains.
Right up front, I get a great caramel maltiness. Added to it, in perfect harmony, is a huge floral hoppiness. Again, it smacks of refreshingness; the same psychological stuff goes on with an American Pale Ale that goes on with lemonade, iced tea or Arnold Palmers.
This is a crisp and medium bodied beer, and finishes dry which simply makes you want more. Unlike the smell, where I noted the malt first, this beer has an aggressive and sharp hop bitterness right up front, very floral, along with some notes of citrus. The bitterness lasts all the way to the finish. Given that much bitterness, there is a goodly amount of malt character (sweetness and slight graininess) to add a real depth to this brew. Underneath it all is that caramel and biscuit (biscuit from the yeast I assume) flavor that really rounds this beer out and keeps it from being an over-hopped travesty.
Overall, this is well-hopped enough for the hopheads to savor, but balanced enough for milder palates who don't like the taste of, say, "tin can" or "pine forest."
American Pale Ales are from British origin; they have Pale Ales, Mild Pale Ales, Bitters, and of course the vaunted IPA. The American version tends to be cleaner and hoppier than its Brit counterparts, including the IPA. The British pales, as a whole, are maltier, aromatic and balanced more than our style. Not for better or worse, just by way of overgeneralized comparison.
Many brewers of the APA style pride themselves on the use of local ingrediants, so you get some very interesting varioations on the overall theme, but they all remain relatively consistent. Some APAs will give you fruity esters and diacetyl, as it uses ale yeast, but this particular brew had little enough of those characters that I missed them all together.
Again, this is a great beer just made for hot, sunny days. And this one, definitely, is all over the local Beer Mecca and Ohio (since it's brewed there). Some of our out-of-state readers should be able to find this style, as GLBC has a pretty broad distribution.