10…9… As the last seconds of 2014 tick away I look down at the finely made beverage in my hand and in the most dramatic of all cinematic cut scenes I flash back to New Years Eve 1999. This was time when the availability of quality craft beer was good but still limited. It was the adolescent age of craft beer in this country. I have chosen three beers from that time that each taught me something about beer.
8…7… My first selection for this journey into the past is the venerable Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. At 5.6 % ABV and 37 IBU’s this beer literally defines the style. A light copper colored brew accented by a delicate hop aroma, slight sweetness, and a dry finish. With Sierra Nevada Pale Ale I learned that you could have a beer that packed a good amount of hop flavor while at the same time not being overly bitter (a concept not often followed these days).
6…5… My second choice is a hazy light straw colored offering from Allagash. Allagash White is a 5.1% ABV beverage that is crisp on the palate with expertly balanced yeast and spice character. This is the first beer I ever had in which I truly understood the contribution of yeast to flavor. It had been several years without having this beer until I decided to order it in a bar one night. It was shocking to me that I had forgotten how much I liked this beer and it was like finding a twenty dollar bill in a pair of old pants.
4…3… My last choice is Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. A light chestnut colored 5.0% ABV beverage of Ye Olde England. This beer pours with a thick white head backed by a sweet, malty, and slightly toasty aroma. The flavor is very similar to the aroma with a slight caramel malty sweetness and nutty/grainy/bready taste. From Sam Smith’s Nut Brown I learned how important malt can be and how it can stand on its own without the need for generous hop additions.
2…1… My Mind comes back to the moment I take my kiss and witness my friends and loved ones drinking from a multitudes of bottles holding brews of every color, hop, and yeast profile and think of what the future will bring. As far as picking a favorite goes, my answer would probably change depending on the time of year you asked me. For the start of winter and the new year I’ll take the malty sweetness of the Nut Brown.
Happy New Year!
Mike “Beruski” Berube is a beer lover who has the belief that there are good beers, there are bad beers, and then there is the right beer. He has begun a quest to find the perfect for every situation.