Monday, June 01, 2009

Beer!? How did you know?

My brief excursion to Dogfishhead's brewpub over the weekend was mostly successful. It's a nice place; a bit yuppie-ish, but that's to be expected, and the 12 DFH beers on draft makes up for it somewhat. For you folks that have been to Portland, its comparable to the Bridgeport Ale House (at least insofar as I went there a lot, always saying "Yuppies be damned, I like this beer on cask").

Miami is basically beer hell. There are microbrews that get distributed down here (including some Dogfishhead), but they're expensive, never on draft, and certainly never on cask. So maybe not beer hell, or at any rate just an outer ring of beer hell. My now many months long habit of not drinking in non-social settings is really only possible because it is so easy to not enjoy beer in Miami; that is, in Portland, where you can drink delicious craft brews for a couple bucks a pint every day, it's impossible not to keep it as a primary hobby, whereas in Miami since so much of my beer consumption has been turned over to macro-swill (mostly Miller High Life--the official beer of my MFA program) the impulse to enjoy life is greatly muted.

Visiting DFH's brewpub, then, while a fun vacation, was also a harsh reminder of how Miami is a city not designed with my personal interests in mind (getting around with a bicycle during the wet season (and now also hurricane season) has further strengthened my already steady grumbling about Miami (though the people in Miami are much more beautiful than the people in Delaware, I will give it that)). Not surprisingly, my favorite beer at DFH was the offering they had on cask (mildly interested devotees will recall CaskQuest2K7 from February-April of 2007); what can I say, I'm a sucker for warm, flat beer. This was their 75 Minute IPA, which is a blend of the 60 and 90 minute IPAs primed with honey before a secondary fermentation. Tasty. Other than a pint of the 90 minute (still one of the great beers in the world--speaking of beers-of-the-world, I've also been reminded recently of the absence of Jever from my life in this first non-Berlin summer in a couple years), I tried a couple of their (DFH's) special beers, or ones I hadn't had before. One was the Pale India Ale, which tasted like liquid papadum (I'm not sure if it was good or not; I had it with my meal, which worked out for the best 'cause all the spices in the beer went well with my veggie burger), and the other was the Black & Blue, made with a boatload of blackberries and blueberries, and tasting as such.

Maybe it's just all the High Life I've been drinking, but my thought on both the India spice and the B&B was that they had too much flavor. It's not all the High Life; that's DFH's schtick, making these gorged beers. It works great with the IPAs because they're just amping up the hops, and the hop thing is a lot of fun, and the beer still tastes like beer. As I think about it, maybe I'm just a purist, with the sort of conservative, traditionalist taste that can often be evinced by radical leftists (I often claim that, in a perfect world (that is, one without capitalism) I'd be a conservative). I support the side of DFH that digs up ancient recipes and makes them. That's a cool gimmick. But there's no reason for a beer to taste as much like blueberries as that Black & Blue did.

The brewpub also has a distillery. So I tried their gin. It was gross. Too bad. Anchor Brewing(/Distilling) has been distributing some of their liquors for a year or two now, and their gin, Junipero is really good. The West Coast is the better of the two Coasts. I had hope to get in a 120 minute IPA as well, but, if you do the math, you can see that that would've been somewhat untenable, despite being transported by cabs, and something that connects Reheboth Delaware with Dewey Delaware, called the "jolly trolley." If I lived down the street from Dogfishhead, I'd mostly just drink the cask all the time, but that'll be the case if I ever live down the street from a place with a cask at all again, but that's part of beer tourism, you've gotta try everything can, rather than just pick something you like and just have that.


Blogger Jack said...

Do you know anything about Canadian beers? I had a Boréale Rousse on tap in Quèbec that I liked a lot (oh, here it is) although I couldn't tell you how micro/macro it is.

I had no idea you were drinking Miller High Life, and it surprises me a lot. I've never actually had it, although I do enjoy describing things ironically as "the champagne of [whatever]s."

6/02/2009 8:18 AM  
Blogger Don said...

We actually DID live down the street from the Dogfish Head brewpub that opened in Seven Corners (in Northern Virginialand). My take on Dogfish Head is that I'm really glad that they exist, but most of their beers are of the type that I'd love to try once, but am not going to go buy a case of. I'd probably go further than you, throwing most of those x-minute IPAs in that category too (I feel like there's been some serious overexposure in the IPA/double IPA craft brews recently, even though I like a good hoppy beer). That said, their Indian Brown Ale, is pretty great - like a brown ale with a little more kick and hop bite, but nicely balanced.

I don't know if it's been mentioned here yet, but the New Yorker had an article on DFH recently:

We started homebrewing this spring, so I'm turning into a real beer geek.

My favorite Canadian beers are from Unibroue in Montreal. That and Molson Golden. And the four dollar pitchers of Labatt's they sell at the Dark Horse Tavern here in State College.

6/02/2009 7:49 PM  
Blogger nate said...

I didn't ever realize there was a Dogfish Head brewpub in NoVA; was it there a year and a half ago? Of course I was strongly predisposed to drink where I didn't have to drive, which ruled out most of ol' Northern Virginny. Plus I don't get around anyway. For instance I lived in Pennsylvania for something close to 23 years in a row and never once made it out to State College.

Miller High Life is actually my lower-end beer of choice. I also enjoy their marketing angle. A while ago I submitted a poem to the writing group I've been kinda-sorta writing stuff for that contained the line "My life is the champagne of beers of lives" but no one really got it; philistines.

6/03/2009 12:32 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

Yeah, it's kind of sad that I've sunk as low as drinking High Life, but it really is better than any other cheap beer (Schlitz might earn some recognition), and there's just no call for drinking nine dollar six packs of micro-brews down here.

I think the 90 minute IPA (I'm probably repeating myself here) really is one of the great beers in existence. I'll drink the 60, but there's a bunch of other IPAs that I prefer to it.

The thing with DFH is that they're commitment to bigness means that pretty much all of their beers are disgustingly sweet (I'll admit that the 90 is sweet too, but not that sweet), since the only way you can jack up the alcohol is to jack up the sugar. I remember noticing this most with their "Golden Shower Imperial Pilsner" which was disgusting and a mockery of everything a pilsener should be (everything that a pilsner should be is Jever).

Homebrewing is great. Best hobby there is.

6/04/2009 3:28 PM  

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