Monday, September 14, 2009

Take Pride in What You Do...

Of all the "Seven Deadly Sins", I've always thought that Pride was the one that least deserved to be there. All the others have pretty much solely negative connotations: Wrath, Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Envy, even Lust have little to no redeeming qualities about them. But there's nothing wrong with Pride, so long as it's justified and not taken to extremes. "Arrogance" might have been a better choice when they were picking deadly sins, but no one asked me about it.

With all this in mind, perhaps, the folks at Midnight Sun have just re-released another batch of their take on Pride. Or maybe they were justly proud of the fact that this beer took a Bronze medal at the World Beer Cup and a Silver at the Great American Beer Festival last year. Or maybe they just like fooling around with Brettanomyces and French Oak Chardonnay barrels.

Whatever the reason, Pride is back on the street, which was my excuse to dive into my cellar and pull out a bottle from its last release, 18 months ago. Given what a notoriously slow-worker brett can be, I was interested in what sort of changes that much time might have produced.

The beer poured with a lovely white head of pinpoint carbonation, typical of the Belgian Strong Pale Ale style. Bottled at 6.5% ABV and 40 IBUs, on the palate it was very dry, with the strange, "horse-blanket" funkiness that screams brett to anyone who has ever tasted it. Slightly tart, amazingly refreshing, time has only served to make this brew something that its makers can be even more proud of. I plan to pick up several more bottles from this new release, some to drink fresh, some to cellar. I'd suggest you all do the same.

Speaking of picking up beers, I noticed that Stone's 13th Anniversary Ale, which I reviewed last week, is available at the Safeway here in Soldotna. Here's your chance to get some without driving to Anchorage, so don't miss out.

Zach Henry of St. Elias sent me an email telling me that he had a new beer on, so I stopped by on Saturday to check it out. Henry's Best Bitter is his take on the classic British Bitter style, high in hoppiness but relatively low in alcohol, to allow for extended drinking. Such a beer would typically be in the 3.8 to 4.6 % ABV range, and in Britain would be delivered from a cask (not a keg) via a handpump. Unfortunately, St. Elias is not (yet?) set up for dispensing from casks, so this Best Bitter is on draft like the rest of their offerings, but at 4.2% ABV, it's right on target for the style.

Instead of the using the traditional English hop varieties, such a Fuggles or East Kent Goldings, Zach decided to go with American hops, including Amarillo and Simcoe, among others. The result is a very interesting beer, scoring high not only on hoppiness but also -- without the extra alcohol of an IPA-- on sustained drinkability . You could imagine it's the sort of beer we might all be drinking today if we colonials had never sent the Brits packing. I really enjoyed it and look forward to enjoying it again the next time I duck into St. Elias for lunch or dinner.

Also, Zach mentioned that he will soon be installing an 8th serving tank, and he plans to maintain a tap line-up of five regulars (Puddle Jumper Pale Ale, Mother's Milk Irish Stout, Farmer's Friend, Williwaw IPA, & Flower Child XPA) alongside three seasonal beers.

And last but not least, I hear Kenai River has a new Single Hop IPA on offer; I plan to stop by there sometime this week, so I should have a review of it in next week's blog.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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