Alex Chesbro's Blog

Summertime, and the Living is Easy…

August 1, 2009
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So I just got done mowing the back yard, and like a real man, I craved a nice crisp beer after being in the 97 degree sun for 2 hours.   I reached into my fridge and grabbed a Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager.  Against my will, really.  I’ve got some Widmer Drifter Pale Ale in there as well, but I wasn’t feeling “fruity” at that moment.  I was thirsty.

I like this beer, I really do.  But I’ve got my qualms about it.  3436902288_9f1d917a39Let’s start at the beginning though…

I love Lagers.  Love them with all my heart.  That said, I love Pilsners just as much, possibly more, especially Budvar (Czechvar for you US people).  I don’t know what Sierra Nevada was trying to pull here, though.  Well, I do really; they were trying to make a European Pilsner, as evidenced by their inclusion of the Perle and Saaz hops and Munich malts.

Someone forgot to show up to the party though.  They were Mr. Saaz, Mrs. Perle, and the mayor of Munich.  Seriously, this tastes like a slightly-better Miller High Life.  Ok, it’s not that “bad,” but it’s no Premium Lager. I’ll drink a Becks import over this any day of the week.

But that’s not to say it’s not refreshing.  Sierra Nevada is known for its copious amounts of hops that they use, always well-balanced.  I don’t know if they used American Saaz and Perle hops or what, but the true colors of those flowers sure didn’t shine through.  It has more a citrusy, floral nose than it really should.  And the taste, the taste is “American Pilsner” all the way.  It’s an expensive Miller Lite, and it’s priced accordingly at “1/2 a kidney.” 

Ok, this beer is good, not Sierra Nevada’s best by any means, but it’s not Lager Good.  I could go so far to call it “American Pilsner” good, but I’m not going to.  I don’t know if they continuously ferment, skip kraeusening, or what, but Summerfest Lager taste just like a beefed-up macro brew lager/pils.  Not good enough for me to drink all summer, but good enough for me to enjoy once in a while.  Maybe as a 6-pack that I bring to a BBQ, or want to chill out on the porch when I want something tasty and decent.

I remember when I was still living in Dusseldorf, Germany, sitting outside one day concepting with my Art Director partner.  We were at a bar, sitting outside, the sun blaring at us.  2pm or something like that.  We drank lagers the whole day, and that’s how I like to remember lagers.  Eminently drinkable.  Smooth.  Crisp finish, thanks to Czech Saaz hops, German Perle hops, German Munich malts.  Everything from where it’s supposed to be.  

Thats what we want to be able to do.  Brew America the first Great American Lager.  Ales are great and all, but you can’t exist on bread and water alone.  We want to bring you the “Fluessiges Brot” of Germany, and let you drink it ’till your gullets explode.  

More coming soon…..


The Perfect Beer

July 27, 2009
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What is the perfect beer? Is it a Lager?  If so, is it a American Light Lager (Bud, Miller, etc), a German Lager, Czech Lager, anything lager? Is it a Pale Ale?  If so, is it the American Pale Ale, the British Pale Ale, the IPA, which?  It’s a tough question to answer.  It’s a tough question to ask in any kind of company because of the convictions everyone feels towards their favorite beer.

For me, there is no perfect beer, only beers that go amazingly well with occasions.  

Take a warm, humid day in Orlando, or anyplace warm as balls.  I want something crisp.  Something light, and with inherent drinkability.  I don’t want something that’s going to get me balls drunk, and I don’t want something that’s going to overwhelm my senses.  I want something that’s going to enhance what I’m feeling at the moment.  I’d probably go with something crisp like a Pilsner, or a German Pils.  You really can’t go wrong with either of these.  You could go with a Veltins or a Bitburger, but if you can find it, Spaten should fill your German Pils quotient.  Personally, if I could find a good deal on it, I’d buy up all the “Czechvar” that I could find (Budvar to those in the know), and drink it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  As Michael Jackson said (the beer dude, not Jacko), it’s the one reason to move to the Czech Republic. 

If it’s not so humid, I might switch to a heavier lager, but I’m not sure.  I’d probably reach for an Altbier.  An Alt, especially Schlussel or Diebels, is what I like to call a “perfect beer.”  Not that it tastes the best or anything, but that it balances maltiness and bitterness perfectly, almost 50/50.  So it’s suitable for year-round drinking.  Unlike stouts, which I can only drink when the weather turns sour.  But to each their own.  Alts, to me, are half ale, half all-malt lager.  Very strong malt taste in the beginning, and it finishes with the perfection of a subtle Pale Ale.  If you’re ever in the Dusseldorf region of Germany, an Alt is going to be your go-to session beer.

When the weather turns cold, most of us, myself included, like to start drinking “warmers.”  That is, beers with lots of booze to get us drunk.  But I also like a lot of flavor in my beer.  I’ve been disappointed with stouts from the US, recently, or maybe it’s just my palate adapting to them.  I’ve never really had them a lot before.  And Guinness’ new 250th Anniversary brew…it sucks.  But I’m going to plug something, and say it’s my favorite stout.  I usually don’t agree with beer reviews, because everyone’s different.  So when I see a glowing review that’s all “100%”  “10/10,” I get suspicious.  But I tried it, and it is the nectar of the gods.  It’s put out by Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado, and it’s absolutely amazing.  It’s called Ten-Fiddy.  I can only imagine they named it that because it pours like 10w50 motor oil.  Rich and viscous, no carbonation at 1st, but a head materializes magically in the glass.  I’ll try to post a review later today.  If you can find it, buy it, even if it costs $12 a 4-pack.  It’s worth it.

But my favorite session beers?  The beers I’d like to drink tons of when I’m with friends.  Those come cheap, because you don’t need expensive things when you’re with company.  Yes, we do love great beer, and we’re willing to pay for it.  But when we just want to go out and build a fire and shoot the shit?  Or when we’re out camping and want to stock up?  We don’t want to set aside a paycheck for our beer rations.  We’ll gladly pay a higher price for a better beer to accompany a great meal, or to celebrate, to try something new, or just to relax.  But to pound back the brew?  No way.

Miller High Life.  Genesee Cream Ale.  If you can find Genny Cream…buy as much of it as you can.  You’ll thank me later.

So tell me, what’s your “perfect” beer?  Do you go cheap with friends to pound them back and shell out the extra cash to relax and enjoy?

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