Saturday was a birthday celebration and therefore had to have some part of it spent drinking delicious brew. This year it was decided to try out a local microbrew. The 75th street brewery doesn’t have an extensive history but has been around long enough to establish itself as one of the few great local brewpubs. Let me get this out of the way and say that there was no bad beer.
I elected to start with a sampler. No better way to quickly survey the landscape of their beers than to try as many as you can as cheaply as you can. At a $1.50 apiece, a sampler of six beers was ordered. The current seasonal, the wheat, the IPA, the stout, the Irish red, and the raspberry wheat.
The first to be tasted was current seasonal. It may well be the now cliched Pumpkin beer but it is not cliched in taste. Starting light on the pallet, the spices used fully compliment the pumpkin instead of masking it. It was nice, eminently drinkable, and a little filling.
I then dove into the raspberry wheat. This is a beer to write home about. Effervescent with a tart zip that clears away all other tastes it leaves the mouth wanting more. I could easily find myself losing an entire day to drinking this.
I began to mix it up, jumping between the wheat and red while leaving the IPA and the Stout to the very finish. The Irish red was good, drinkable beer but nothing spectacular jumped out at me while it was washing down the appetizers. The same can be said of the wheat. An excellent beer for those who like the style to the exclusion of all others, while the rest of us will find it simply good in terms of taste and refreshment.
My personal feelings are that stouts need to be drank slightly warmer than most other beer and to be paired with food. Which is why I didn’t touch it until my fish and chips came. I moved on to my favorite type of beer, IPA. And it was good, very good. It was so enjoyable that the next time our waitress came by I ordered a pint to help finish off the meal.
A quick aside: Making a good IPA can be harder than some think because of trying to find the right balance between the sweet and bitter. Too bitter and the sweet comes out as sour . Too sweet and the hops disappears into the beer. Too sweet can paradoxically also lead to the brew having a sour aftertaste as well, something you never forget the first time it happens. So when you find a good IPA that gets the balance right, getting the mix between the bitter hops and sweet malt, that is something to celebrate. This, in my opinion, is an IPA to celebrate.
Finally, the stout was the only beer left. There is much to like. The creamy texture. The dark roasted caramel tastes. But there was also one thing to dislike. The smokey bite. It seem to hit at the wrong point in the drink. Just as I am getting to the transition between the cream and the caramel, the smoke would bite down hard which was particularly jarring. Having a drink with food did somewhat blunt the sharp edge of the smoke it did not disappear completely and makes me think that there was more going on with the beer than at first sip. While not for me, I can see where a stout with this sort of bite would find an appreciative audience.
This trip and the wonderful beer will definitely get me to go back a second time. It’s simply a matter of finding the time to do so.