Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Couple of Summer Seasonals

Good god it's frickin' hot down here in Texas this summer. I swear if it weren't for the great, cold swimming holes we have in and around Austin I'd move. (I've discovered through Facebook that I have about a dozen friends in the much balmier Portland, Oregon; maybe I should move up there. Nah, they already have several beer bloggers.)

Seasonal beers also help me deal with the heat, and I've sampled a couple of good'uns lately.

Last night — as the sun was setting, appropriately enough — I grabbed the Twilight Ale that the nice folks from Deschutes (speaking of Oregon) sent to me. Not quite sure why this is a seasonal — it didn't seem particularly light, but it certainly is flavorful. Not particularly original in taste, it struck me as a Sierra Nevada Pale clone, albeit slightly heavier on the malt. But hey, nothing wrong with that — I love Sierra Pale. Deschutes says it blends four kinds of hops, finished with an Amarillo dry-hopping.

Sorry, not sure if this beer is available in Austin — Deschutes doesn't send all their beers to Texas, and I haven't checked the stores for this one.

Deschutes sent me some big-beer stuff to review, too, but I don't really want to tackle a couple of 11% ABV bombers on my own. Let me round up some friends for a tasting and I'll get back to you on those.

When I really like a seasonal is if it delivers something unique, and Shiner Smokehaus certainly delivers in that regard. I was pretty pissed when Spoetzl/Shiner replaced my beloved Kölsch with that pathetic, watery
Spezial Leicht (Special Light) as the summer seasonal last year; they're definitely getting back on my good side by replacing Leicht with this.

I've also opined that Shiner could get on my good side if they'd re-release more of the limited-edition 100th anniversary beers that they've been putting out over the past five years, and they're sort of doing that here. Last year they put out a delightful Munich-style Helles, and Smokehouse revives the Helles, but with a twist: As hinted by the name, the beer is flavored with a pale malt that's been smoked by mesquite wood.

Now, I had some trepidation about that. I've tried "smoke beers" before and have yet to be impressed. And then I smelled it, and I really got worried — it smelled like barbeque! (Texas BBQ, anyway, as mesquite is the wood of choice for how we smoke it down here.) Now I love BBQ, but I'm not sure I want to swish it around in my beer before drinking.

But I was pleasantly surprised. The actual smoky taste was much more restrained than in other beers I've tried, and it went down great. And I'd forgotten how much I liked that slightly syrupy quality of the Helles. Smokehaus' label bills it as "The Perfect Sommer Bier," and I'm inclined to agree. In fact, rather than tasting like BBQ, I think this may be the perfect beer to drink with BBQ. I'll be consuming a lot more of this throughout the summer.


DirtyHippie said...

Disgusting. If you liked that, I'm sure there's a "cigarette" flavored beer out there for you.

MiGrant said...

I'm with you on the Kölsch, wasn't too impressed by the Smokehouse though.

Machuca said...

So, when are we drinking those bombers?

I too liked the smokehaus. But it's noAecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier.

Haandbryggeriet Norwegian Wood is another good smoked beer. Made with juniper twigs and berries. Think smoked gin beer. Sounds tasty, right?

Bill said...

I picked up some Smokehaus in Tulsa last week. You and Machuca are both right: it's a dandy beer, and (thankfully) not as smoky as Schlenkerla, though I can appreciate that too. I really liked the 100 Doppelbock, also.

Don't forget, Lee, you're about to get 4 more reasons to move to Portland.

Lee said...

Bill: Actually, I was including the Morris family in the count. I guess I should have said a dozen "now living or planning to live in Portland." Margaret's friends Ben and Erin are pretty set on relocating there too.