Weekend Tap Update – It’s Not All Rock Stardom, You Know.
Hold onto your bar stool – over the top, intense flavor complexity doesn’t have to equal “good” beer. It sounds obvious, right? But in the world of the next big IPA or stout, and with everything under the sun being added to beer these days in the name of complexity, (see, you did find a use for that French coffee press), or with everything being thrown into a barrel to see what comes out, it seems that one type of thinking might suggest that. Of course, none of this necessarily means “better”. There are plenty of great tasting beers without the street ‘cred’ of those bigger beers that are sometimes overlooked – or more accurately, crushed like a beer can under the weight of a monster truck – in the world of “big” beer. Beers such as these are not deserving of any less respect than the latest huge, pinot noir barrel aged stout that promises to bring you ever closer to the ledge of big beer. So remember, occasionally, it can be just as good – and just as tasty – to take a step back from that ledge and “drink” in the view, instead of bungee jumping off of it.
This weekend, a perfect example of one of these beers went on tap Friday afternoon at Blue 5. 21st Amendment Brewing’s Bitter American is one of those perfectly good examples of a beer that delivers the satisfaction of a great, flavorful beer without necessarily feeling like it’s trying to break all the molds. Remember, it’s not a knock on the beer – not in the least. Bitter American is a delicious American style Pale Ale that has plenty of flavor, instantaneously featuring biscuit/dry bread like tastes from the malt with just enough leafy, hop oily, floral flavor from the hops. The hops definitely lead here, but despite the name, the bitterness is not overwhelming. It’s a duet which is decidedly shifted towards the hops, but without the accompanying malt character, just wouldn’t be as satisfying to take in. I’ve read that beers such as these take a deft hand by the brewer to land this kind of interplay just right, so even though a brew like this might seem like it’s playing the acoustic circuit instead of the fireworks laden rock show of some bigger beers, it’s more than worth trying – and often winds up giving the drinker the kind of gratifying satisfaction in taste that you had forgotten a show like this could give.
Occasionally, you hear of how beers such as these, especially when the talk becomes specifically about lower alcohol, or “session” brews, will be, and perhaps should be, the next “big thing” in craft beer. I’m definitely not waving that flag – craft beer fans know good beer, whether of the rock star variety or not. There’s certainly room for both. Delicious beers such as 21st Amendment’s Bitter American prove just that – catch it on draft this weekend and see for yourself.
Also – don’t forget to check out a new one on tap from Virginia based Legend Brewing (Richmond) at Local Roots Restaurant. Legend’s new Saison style ale has recently been added. Here is the info, straight from the brewery’s website:
“Legend Saison is brewed in the tradition of the farmhouse ales of the Wallonia region of southern Belgium. Belgian Pilsner and Honey malts, along with a small amount of wheat, impart a straw golden color and a sweet malt backbone that balances nicely with the subtle bitterness of German noble hops. An intentional souring of a portion of the mash during the brewing process adds a refreshing tartness. Fermented with a classic farmhouse yeast that contributes a spicy aroma and fruity undertones. A complex, yet easy drinking treat.”