Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A "Hit" From The Land of The Rising Sun - Hitachino Nest Ale


So, I was out in Seattle back in March and experienced some typical Seattle weather for most of the time I was there. But, who cares when you have a whole day dedicated to the Washington State Cask Beer Festival?? At least, I seem to recall that I might have been at such a place - after drinking barleywine it got a little hazy.

The day before the festival, while visiting Shaun, I got to try what was then the latest edition of Shaun and Mark's beer exchange, the Hitachino Nest Beer. Upon observing it, I worried that it would be too light and easy for my IPA loving self. Perhaps this little brew would disappear in my mouth like a glass of mediocre sake. That was hardly the case. Light in color and thin bodied, this lager packed an amazing amount of flavor. It bears sharp citrus notes but also just enough hop bite to keep it focused. This beer commands your attention in the same way that a cool kit hot rod car does on a sunny day. And this is quite the perfect summer beer.

Fortunately, this is offered plenty of places in Chicago. Everyone I've introduced to this fermented concoction didn't just like it; they wanted to make love to it, making this a fine "how did he know I would like this?" beer to share with your friends and women whose phone numbers you seek. I look at this bottle and see my next three months. Well done, Japan!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lagunitas: The Saison of Summer


Yesterday it was a perfect day in Seattle to sit outside and enjoy lunch and a beer. The sun was shining it was a comfortable 70 degrees and a light breeze. I found a perfect beer to go with a sunny summer day. The Lagunitas Saison is a great replacement for the typical American Pilsner style beer that those giant breweries try to tell you taste good. It's also a great replacement for the ubiquitous hefewiezens that have become so popular in the last few years. Plenty of great hefe's but it's nice to have a choice.

This beer pours a pure yellow, not golden or pale but a crisp clear yellow. It has very little head and the bubbles slowly climb up the sides of the glass. It has a malty smell with a faint wif of hops and yeast. It doesn't look and smell quite like a normal Saison and this helps it blend in with the bud crowd if the need arises. The effervescence hits the front of your tongue immediately and then the tart taste hangs out mainly on the sides and back of your tongue. That's where you find most of the flavor. It's not citrusy like a hefe or bitter/hoppy like an IPA. It is a mix of lightly malty and tartness that make it a great refreshing summer beer. And best of all: No fruit needed.

In a pint glass this great beer could easily sneak in to your baseball buddies circle of cheap beer drinkers without getting laughed out or called snobby. Of course all this could be for naught if a knowledgeable bartender serves it in the proper Belgian goblet style glass.

Pros:
-Excellent tasting refreshing summer beer
-Can blend in with cheap beer crowd if required
-No Fruit required

Cons:
-Your cover could be blown if served in the proper frew-frewy glass

Verdict:
-A great non-hefe non-crap beer that's perfect for summer