Friday, February 25, 2011

Beer of the Week (Vol. LXXXIX)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the down to earth folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you explore the natural splendor of wine, whiskey, and beer.

A couple of quick beer related notes before we get to the beer of the week:

* BREWPUBLIC-Yeast, Malt, and the Pursuit of Hoppiness is an excellent web site covering everything beer related in Oregon, an excellent state for beer.

* Robert e-mails with a tasting suggestion:

I tried something from Big Sky called “Cowboy Coffee” about a week ago…..very intriguing bunch of flavors in something that makes a stout seem mild in some respects. If you haven’t tried it yet, you might want to…

Further research has revealed that the beer is called Cowboy Coffee Porter and it's one of Big Sky Brewing's Limited Releases. I will definitely keep an eye out for it.

When you think of Napa Valley, beer is not the first thing that comes to mind. But maybe it should. For even in the heart of California wine country, you can now find craft beers from the Napa Smith Brewery:

Napa Valley is internationally know as a destination for those individuals seeking the best that life has to offer. Napa Smith is proud to contribute to the Napa tradition of hard work, craftsmanship, and artistry with the introduction of our unique family of beers.

We create our beers using proprietary recipes developed by our Master Brewer Don Barkley, with his 30+ years in the craft brewing industry. Only the finest domestic and European hops, two row barley, and malted wheat are used in the beer that we make.

Their Organic IPA is our beer of the week. Which leads to the question, just what is it that gets a beer designated that way anyhow?

Defining Organic Beer:

But are all organic beers created equal? Organic certification has several different levels. The highest level of certification is “100 Percent Organic,” and is achieved when only organically produced ingredients and processing aids are used (i.e. no chemicals or pesticides). Next is “Organic,” which are those products that contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The remaining ingredients must be proven not to be available in organic form in the quantity and quality needed for the product. The non-organic ingredients must be included in the USDA's National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. At present, hops usually comprise the non-organic component of certified organic beers, because some varieties can be hard to obtain in organic form.

The fact that 5 percent or less of the ingredients in a certified organic beer are not organic hasn’t deterred most consumers from the products. This is normally due to the consumer being unaware of the 95 percent threshold, they feel that 95 percent organic is sufficient, or because they have determined that their organic beers of choice are made with organic hops. However, some consumers, hops growers, and brewers feel differently. Some argue that consumers who choose organic beer are making a conscious decision about what they put into their bodies, and feel that any pesticides or chemicals are unacceptable. Some beer lovers also choose organic beer because organic farms help reduce pollution to soil and water.

Yawn. Let's get down to the real business of beer: what does it taste like?

Style: IPA

Alcohol by Volume: 7.1%

COLOR (0-2): Beautiful rich copper-brown and nicely clouded. 2

AROMA (0-2): Hoppy with floral and citrus scents. 2

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color, not a lot of volume, but good retention. 2

TASTE (0-5): Bitter hops and caramel malt with a light flavors of clove and grass. A bit of a metallic taste to it. Smooth with a medium body. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Bitter follow through, but a little harsh. 1

OVERALL (0-6): This is a beer that looks great in the glass. However, I found the flavor palate to be more confusing than complimentary. The flavors are not really bad per se, but it just doesn't really work the way it should. 3

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 13