Today’s post is nontraditional, but we couldn’t resist, given that in 1989 on this day Iceland repealed its prohibition on alcohol and Beer Day was born (Icelandic is a awesome language, so some key words are translated below). So, as we look back over our beer loves and hates of the last month, we tell you which brews are do’s and which are dont’s.
Have fun picking some of these up for your own Beer Day celebration, and send us your pics!
Belgian White Wheat Ale
While it might be predictable, one should definitely enjoy Blue Moon’s Belgian White Wheat Ale more often than the saying would suggest. With a cloudy gold colour, minimal head and moderate carbonation, this wheat ale (öl) actually captures the traditional Belgian brews of Antwerp quite well. A faint, sweet aroma can be appreciated when the glass is first raised to your lips, while aromatic orange (appelsínugulur) notes complete the drink. While we prefer it draught with an orange slice (try to make it Valencia), it’s perfect chilled and one of the quintessential springtime ales.
IPA (Indverskt föl öl)
There’s nothing quite like an IPA, and Hopothesis’ new brew, with a light head and amber colour, medium carbonation and mellow bitter nose, present one of the most Indian-style Pale Ales we’ve tried in a long time. Complete with a nutty aftertaste that is unique to this brand, Hopothesis sets the bar high and achieves with this fantastic ale. Recommended with hearty ethnic food and American favourites: here’s hoping for an Indian Summer.
Strange beers are fun, and we think with all the ice in Iceland (well, we know that Greenland is actually the icey one, but what the heck), they would just love a fruit beer, given that one usually eats only elk up there (this might be an exaggeration, we’re not sure). This one’s from Belgium and consists of a Flemish brown ale aged for 18 months along with whole cherries (kirsuber). The rich malt base and the slightly sweet and sour flavor make you quite confused about whether this is a wine (vín), beer (bjór) or spirit (andi), but the bittersweet nose along with moderate carbonation leave you in no doubt: it’s a beer, a beer worthy of the anti-prohibitionists and good enough to keep you warm for the remainder of the snow season (snjór árstíð).
Hard Cider: Apple Ginger (Erfitt Eplasafi: Epli Engifer)
Springtime is not the traditional time for cider, and perhaps that’s why this light gold little number didn’t really work out. Autumn would have been a better time for this headless, moderately carbonated beverage with a juice-like aroma, that reminds one more of a Juicy Juice than any type of cider. Marketed as apple ginger, it features zero ginger notes and no sharp taste, seemingly pear-like (pera-eins) in its flavoring. Go for a cloudy, traditional, still harder cider in the future, and steer clear of this “100% Kids” drink.
Barrel Trolley Brewing Company
If your beer (bjór) palate has not really matured since college, you’re going to love this one. Reputedly an amber ale, this beer comes complete with no head and a malty, light flavour, reminiscent of a Miller High Life. Completely normal, but not quite the junk fraternities spew out, we wouldn’t recommend this amber ale for the money it costs. Then again, perhaps we’re too sophisticated over here.
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Apart from having a deeply unattractive name, Smuttynose lets you down on another front as well: the artwork. It’s actually beautiful, but it seems to be one of those many breweries that puts far too much money into a graphic designer and much less into the beer it is making. A black beer (svartur bjór) with light head and a malty, bitter smell, it is actually not that unpalatable, yet its dark taste lacks the complexity of more notable porters. Medium carbonation does do the product much service, and we can imagine such a concoction being served in Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop, but not many other places.
Vanilla Porter Ale
We weren’t sure where to place this one, so we’ll let you decide. Dark reddish in colour with moderate head and a bitter, vanilla caramel (vanillu karamellu) nose, it had minimal carbonation and the flavour of a milk stout (mjólk digri). In fact, this beer is less bitter than most porters and has a pleasant, smoky aftertaste, but perhaps lacks the fullness in flavour that would merit buying it on its own. Good in a variety pack, but make sure you have a good alternative, as this beer is just not unique enough for us.
Duvel Moortgat Brewery
This strong golden ale is a Belgian standard. Fairly simple and lacking in the complex flavors of other Belgian beers, Duvel nonetheless provides a solid imported beer for the globetrotters of drinking. Primarily a pilsner-based ale, it also has herb (jurt) and citrus (sítrus) notes, with a nice amount of carbonation. If you’re not comfortable ordering European beers yet, this is a good starting point.
Maredsous is primarily an awesome beer because of its backstory, rather than content. Brewed by monks of the Maredsous Abbey of Denée in Belgium, it seems more like a novelty than a beer, and we can imagine this Friar Tuck’s having a bit too much of their own ale for our amusement. A tripel (although they spell it “Triple” on the label), it’s rather strong with a sweet caramel malt and slight bitterness. Hints of earth (jörð), grass (gras) and anise (anís) shine through, although we believe one would be better set with a less well-known abbey ale than this mass produced version.
P.S. Við vonum að þú njótir þessa dýrindis (og sumir ekki svo góður) gjafir og fagna bjór dag og í lok banni fullkomlega og hjartanlega. Mundu: senda okkur myndirnar þínar!
(We hope you enjoy these delicious (and some not so delicious) offerings and celebrate Beer Day and the end of prohibition fully and heartily. Remember: send us your pics!)