Monday, October 20, 2008

Beer Question

...I'd ask Tam but she'd injure herself laughing....*

The Data Viking and I made the rounds of the "healthy and/or gourmet food" stores Sunday: Fresh Market, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and it bein' Sunday and alcohol sales bein' verboten here in Hoosierland ('cos $DEITY punches a nearsighted kid every time you get drunk on Sunday and you, well, you, pal, there is no way any adult beverage in your house lasts more than a day, right? Perfectly logical!) --Where was I? Oh, yes, the two of us not quite teetotallers found ourselves walkin' around great vast heaps, stacks and shelves of beer and wine we could not buy (due that aforementioned law to protect nearsighted kids from the Fist of Fate). Naturally, we were intrigued. (Hey, there's a light beer called "Edison" after the inventor of [electric] light; and you thought my puns were groaners...).

But -- yes, question, comin' to that, I did not either forget and you can't prove otherwise -- neither of us are big fans of hops. IPAs are hoppy indeed, so what's the opposite? Are there any decent beer-like beverages that are not especially bitter? Endless opportunities for cheap shots at American lagers here, I know, but it's a serious question. Or ought I stick to cider and he to mead?
* In Tamland, it's alll about the hops.


Drang said...

You do not need hops to make beer.

I know some consider that statement to be blasphemy, but it is true.

A local brewery (Hales) makes a Scottish Ale using heather instead of hops. Wonderful stuff!

Or you might try one of the "fruity" beers, which still use hops but also add fruit juices--Sam Adams makes a nice seasonal, with cranberry. Of course, I am notoriously fond of cranberries, so maybe not...

Here is a Beer Guide to Indianapolis. (I note that the Broad Ripple Brew Pub is prominently featured.) The Hop Shop would seem like a good place to explore. Locally we have 99 Bottles, which offers tastings, but that would depend on your local laws...)

Rustmeister said...

What you are looking for could be a "malty" flavor profile.

Newcastle Brown is a good start. Any Scottish Wee Heavy would fit the bill. Some barleywines (English style) would, but American style are hop-heavy. Almost any Bock or Dopplebock (double bock)would do.

Flying Dog brewing has a style gauge on all their six pack holders, going from malty to hoppy.

Another route would be the "lambic" beers. They taste more like fruit wine than beer, really. They are Belgian and go by the styles Peche, Boon, Kreik, Gueuze, Framboise, and maybe a couple I'm not remembering right now.

I really like them. Not for session drinking, but they rock as a change of pace.

Along that line, there are also fruit wheat beers like Abita Purple Haze and Pyramid Apricot Weizen. These are hit and miss, as some are way too fruity, some hardly at all. The two I mention I drink all summer.

That's what I have, off the top of my head. There's a beer out there for everybody.

Anonymous said...

Well, you can still wind up with some pretty bitter examples, but a good stout is generally a safe bet for non-hoppy. Stone's Russian Imperial Stout is so malty you practically need to chew it, but not terribly bitter. Hefeweizens and Belgian Wits can have some downright citrusy flavors that border more on tart than bitter. Shock Top is popular in this house, even though it's from Anheuser Busch. Being as you have more options availible than a grocery store haunted by a pack of borderline alcoholic physicists, if you can find Pinkus Pilsner, that stuff is downright smooth. Full of flavor with only the merest hint of bitterness.

Sevesteen said...

When I'm not in the mood for hops, I've liked most Wheat beers/wheat ales/ Hefeweizens I've tried. Blue Moon is an unfiltered wheat ale, described as spicy and citrusy. Widely available, even Walmart carries it. Magic Hat Circus Boy is also good, somewhat similar. Both are very cloudy, with "stuff" that settles on the bottom. I like to turn the bottles upside down and rock them a bit before opening, to get more of the "stuff" in my glass.

Another possibility is Newcastle Brown Ale, also fairly widely available.

Sevesteen said...

Oh--The Trader Joe in my area does Beer and Wine tasting twice a week--you might want to check yours.

Anonymous said...

I started off from pretty much the exact same place- a cider/alcopop drinker that didn't care for the bitterness of a lot of beers. Nowadays I have a much greater appreciation for hops, but I'm never going to be a Tam-style hophead, and IPAs remain among my least favorite of styles. I'm not that huge into malt, either; so far as I'm concerned, you don't necessarily have to careen from one end of "slap you with flavor" to the other to be a "real" beer drinker.

Like Stingray said, Belgian Whites are among my very favorite of styles- I love the crisp citrusyness of them, which has a clean flavor that's not exactly sweet. I also really like tropical-style lagers- think Corona for the most mainstream and things like Jamaica's Red Stripe and Landshark Lager. Also not very big on the bitterness OR maltiness and go well with a bit of lemon while still having plenty of flavor.

On the maltier end of things, red ales were among the first non-lite beers I enjoyed and remain probably my favorite style for grabbing a new beer and expecting to like it down to the last drop. Sam Adams (I hate their Boston Lager, by the way) has a really nice red ale. Killian's isn't bad, but it's not quite as good. If you can get it, Abita has a great red ale too.

I'll second Rustmeister's recommendation of a brown ale, that tend to be tamer and friendlier than some other types- if you're looking for sweet, honey brown ales can be very nice. I favor J.B.'s honey brown. Fat Tire (again, if you can get it) is also a really nice ale with honey flavors in it.

Pilsners vary, but most of them are nice and light with good flavor and generally good for drinking along with dinner rather than spending the whole glass contemplating the hops-ness or malt-ness of it all. If you can't find Pinkus (or Rio Grande pilsner, our other favorite), Pilsner Urquell, the Czech import, is pretty darn good.

Stouts vary between more bitter stouts like Guinness and sweeter ones- if you can find a "chocolate" or "farmhouse" stout, those tend to be sweet stouts rather than malt-o-ramas.

As for fruit beer, never could stand any of them myself- when I want a sweeter beer, I go for the honey ales and the most citrusy white ales and marzens. Your mileage may vary.

Enjoy. :)

Anonymous said...

I also like wheat beer. I don't like hoppy beers or stouts. If you can afford it, and find it, I think Hoegarden is the best wheat beer. Blue Moon is a distant second. Either must be served in a glass with a few drops of lemon juice. But these days I brew my own beer. Wheat, of course!

Gudis said...

Show some Hoosier pride and get some Three Floyds brew ( Their Gumballhead doesn't taste hoppy at all to me, and it features some awesome art on the bottles and box.

Anonymous said...

Don't like hops? Any chance you are a supertaster? they tend to not like bitter things.

You're not looking for a quick and dirty buzz above everything else, otherwise I'd mention various "high gravity" beer-like substances (that actually happen to have an overall lower specific gravity, but that's advertising for you)


Anonymous said...

It all tastes like lighter fluid to me. I'll stick to milk. Plus, less likelihod I'll spend anytime in lockup for punching a statue or setting fire to my underwear. Was that out loud?

Roberta X said...

Wow! Wotta response! --Me, I'm just lookin' for something else to sip at blogmeets -- I'm hazy enough even without alcohol. ;) You folks have certainly given me a good place to start.

(As for being a "supertaster," I do not know; I do seem to have a high tastebud density, but I love broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage, so. Food for thought -- there's no prize involve, is there?)

Supertasters reminds me of the "fifth basic taste," which turns up in old cookbooks as "osmazome," a word my Mom and I found most puzzling: it's that hard-to-define meaty taste.

Roberta X said...

"Barkeep? I'll have a Woodchuck cider, and Og, here, will have his usual lighter fluid an' Evercleer. With a cocktail onion in it."
"No, no, it's only called a 'Molotov' if you serve it in a winebottle with a lit cloth in the neck."

Bomb appetit! ;)

Roberta X said...

(Srsly, this is quite an education -- I'm takin' my notes to the next Blogmeet!)

Anonymous said...

Samuel Smith's Tadcaster Porter ("Taddy")... chocolate/vanilla note reminiscent of Oreos.

Celebrator Double Bock... to my taste the closest thing to English "real ale" that I've been able to get in the U.S.

Both are heavier styles more suited for sipping rather than chugging one after you've finished mowing the lawn.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

If you want more balance and less hop-heavy but still well made beers, choose the Pale Ale versions of the Indiana(sic) Pale Ales that Tam likes. Goose Island Pale Ale instead of Goose Island IPA. Micro pilseners and lagers are fine too. All these lean hoppy but aren't the HOPPY you are trying to avoid.

Stouts are also aggressively hopped, but have more malt balance to counteract.

Local brown ale are much more on the malty side of the balance. Like Boscoe!

Avoid imports if you have access to fresh local brews. You don't buy bread and donuts from England, don't by their diacetyl ridden cod-swallop!

Avoid the brews made by the big domestic brewers, too, if you can, too. Killians? Coors with caramel added. Blue Moon Wit? Coors with coriander and bitter orange.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Old Grouch referenced one of my favorites, the Taddy Porter. More of a dessert beer, though.

Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout might be good one...not too heavily hopped, great finish.

There are many great oatmeal stouts out one attempt to brew one failed miserably due to bad mouth-feel. I've read a lot more on how to home-brew them, and I'll give it another try some day. In the meantime, try a local brewery's oatmeal stout (I love supporting my local, it's Lake Superior's "Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout").

Mr. Engineering Johnson said...

dare I suggest a little venture into home brewing? For the cost of a fermenter, some bottlecaps and a decent sized stock pot you can easily formulate a beer that suits your taste (I find that most people actually enjoy hops, but don't like the bitterness, and that's easily remedied by a little change in the boiling time.)

As for commercial options, I seem to recall Sam Adam's Cream Stout being a bit on the sweet side for me. (my notes say, to pair it with sweeter dishes, which usually means I didn't think it was bitter enough to drink by itself) And since it's a SA product, it should be fairly easy to find.

Anonymous said...

Dang it all, that Rustmeister (et. al.) just beat me here. Well, considering how little I drink anymore, my memory of different beers isn't too great anyways. But ...

I'll 2nd recommends for Sam Smiths. I don't care for their Porter, but then I don't like most porters. As for Stout, I like 'em all -- at least those I've tried. Used to drink more Tooth's Sheaf Stout than any other, plus when you can't say it anymore, you've had enough.

My fave wheat beer is Franziskaner, with plenty of lemon squeezed in.

Nobody's mentioned Spaten Optimator. It's a doppelbock, and some find that too heavy/malty/sweet. If that's your reaction, then check out some bock beers.

Home on the Range said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rabbit said...

SWMBO isn't a big fan of beers, but she does like Shiner and Newcastle.

I'll take either one almost any day, unless I'm eating Mexican food; then it's Dos Equis Amber.