Beer… Buffalo- What could possibly go wrong?
Things have been busy for The Beer Guy of late, of top of which the camera seems to have taken a turn for the dead, so: Sorry for the dearth of reviews. Of course, The Beer Guy has been drinking worthy beers, for you, but the writing part has been a bit slack. I am an idler and a scofflaw by nature, what can I say?
The new format will be to throw down one beer news and one beer review each month, so check your Sunday nights for these bimonthly posts. On the first Sunday of the month, I’ll round out what I know about the B-lo beer scene (send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org) while the third Sunday will be dedicated to throwing at least a couple of beer selections your way- and here suggestions are also welcome. Remember: I try beers so you don’t have to!
Click through for this month’s News and Review
Summer Beer Review Round-Up.
As a dedicated beerophile (?), I know every season is the right season for a beer of some kind- but I also allow that some styles just resonate with some seasons more than others. So it is that the darker months call for darker, more complex beers, often with stronger alcohol contents as well- to brace you against that chill, of course. The summer months beg for easy-drinking, “session” beers, in contrast. When your thirst needs some serious quenching, you want something crisp, cold, and not too complex, and lower abv’s mean you can take it in at volume.
Of course, this doesn’t imply you have to stick with the original ‘lawnmower beers,’ the American Pilsners produced in vast quantities by the megabrewers of the country and the world. They certainly meet all the criteria, and I frankly downed a Canadian just the other afternoon… but the curious drinker has a number of other styles to contemplate.
Indeed, the original pilsner beer–The Czech Republic’s Pilsner Urquell–makes an excellent summer beer without pushing your tastebuds too far if you are used to American Pilsner style beers. True, Urquell’s got a lot more hop character. The Saaz hops used in abundance paired with Plzen’s famously soft water leads to a refined bitterness- still considerably restrained compared to the many American pale-ale and IPA monsters out there. No: These are Noble hops. You can’t go wrong with this fully quaffable beer, especially served in traditional .5-liter glasses.
When a monk says “Drink!,” you drink. I say!
A second great summer style is the wheat beer… German Franziskaner is a justly famous example of the Bavarian substyle. These beers are made with, that’s right, some wheat (as opposed to all malted barley), and also have some yeasty (phenolic) flavor. We’re getting a bit more adventuresome here, but not much- expect a beer that is straw-yellow with orange highlights, and yes, cloudy: that’s the yeast in there (If you find Franzi Hefe-Weisse; there is also the darker Dunkel and the filtered Kristalklar.) Let this one warm up a bit out of the cooler, and you’ll catch some of the banana, nut, and even vanilla taste from the yeast, and the chewiness that comes from wheat- offset by fairly high carbonation. I’m generally not into the lemon here, it tends to just acidify all those nice yeast notes, but it’s your call.
Just say “ho-garden,” and try not to laugh.
It’s actually pronounced more like “hoo-ghghghghaarduh”, where “ghghghgh” is a remarkable Dutch consonant like the “ch” in the Scottish “loch,” so take the advice in the caption. Hoegaarden is an example of a different style of wheat beer, the Belgian Wit. This style almost disappeared, but was revived by one Pierre Celis, who went on to brew in Texas before returning to Belgium. This style is differentiated from the Bavarian by being a bit softer (lower carbonation contributes), spicier (the result of brewing with CuraAao orange peel and coriander) and having a more citrusy-yeast character. Although it is ubiquitously served with a lemon, some more sophisticated places will ask if you prefer lemon or orange. I’d urge you to at least give the uncut beer a few sips- you’ll find that flavor is already in there, it is just more subtle.
Buffalo Beer Report: June/July 2006
Flying Bison has announced a new offering in bottles: Buffalo Lager. According to the press release:
This light-bodied German-inspired lager, was originally produced by the Buffalo Brewing Company from 1990-1996. It now lands as the perfect compliment to Flying Bison’s flagship brew, Aviator Red, and the various flavorful beers which are released seasonally, and will be available in bottles.
In addition, FB will now be packing mix-six packs:
With so much tasty variety available in bottles, Flying Bison has implemented the mixed six pack. This will feature their top selling Aviator Red, Buffalo Lager, and the currently available seasonal brew, which will initially be Barnstormer Pale Ale. This package, called the Breweris Ace Squadron, will give consumers a chance to try several of the brands that the Flying Bison Brewery offers.
Tim also reminded me that it’s really not too early to clear your calendars now for the big ol’ Buffalo Brewfest, Sat. Sep. 16th from 2:00-7:00 at the Central Terminal. Quoth Tim:
“Tickets are $20 and available soon at Wegmans, Consumers, Premier Gourmet, Pizza Plant, Buffalo Brew Pub, Alternative Brews, and some funky brewery in Riverside. We will have real food from Ulrich’s and the Pizza Plant so far. All the money from the fest goes to Buffalo Hearing and Speech and the Central Terminal Restoration Fund.”
The Pearl Street Grill will be helping out with Buffalo Old Home Week from Aug 24-27, and are brewing full-tilt. On my last trip, their ESB (extra special bitter) provided a refreshing pint, showcasing crystal malts with just the right balance of English hops to leave the malt character front and center all the while living up to the “bitter” part of the name.
Ulrichs’ summer schedule is in effect- dinner offered Thu & Fri, 5:00-9:30, with lunch remaining Mon-Fri, 11:30-2:45.
Bobby Raab @ Mr. Goodbar will be hosting the next Goodbeer Club tasting on Wed, 12th July- tix are $20 ($15 if bought at the prior tasting), and the next theme is still in the works. Goodbar currently has Rogue’s Morimoto Imperial Pilsner (8.8% abv, and yes, it’s that Morimoto; Celebrity-chef signature beer!) and Lindeman’s apple lambic, Pomme.
Cole’s IPA Festival & competition is coming Aug 5th; Also, the Cole’s Passports are available, listing some 100 + beers they have or rotate through: get all the stamps, get on the Wall of Foam.
Prespa is currently pouring some excellent choices from NYS favorite Brooklyn (their saison-style and chocolate porter); also check out their excellent website, with current bottle beers listed.
Colter Bay has a number of great seasonals on tap, including Hoegaarden and one I just can’t get enough of these days, Magic Hat’s unfiltered american wheat beer, Circus Boy. It’s fantastic! Down on the Chip, Brinks is pouring Leffe Blonde and Stella Artois- the latter is a subtle Euro twist on the American Pilsner beer, give it a shot.
Last time I was at Allen St. Hardware, they were also tearing through the Hoegaarden Wit, so I can’t be sure there’s any left by now. They were also pouring Flying Bison Barnstormer Pale Ale, and their bottle selection includes a most fantastic summer selection, Brazil’s Xingu. That’s right, it is dark, but it drinks like a lager, you’ll see. Hardware also rocks an interesting Pilsner Urquell-alternative in bottles, Vyskovske Pivo (pivo being Czech for ‘beer’)
McGarretts at Elmwood and Bidwell has not one but three(!) FB’s on tap, and of course the excellent Wolaver’s Organic IPA and Pale Ale in bottles, not to mention loads of Saranac from Utica, again on draft.
Shango on Main St. is having rotating Wine & Beer tastings this summer, from 7-9 on the second Wed. of the month. Current beer selections are available at their website. On this thread, BuffaloRox mentions one of my favorite breweries, Bear Republic, of Healdsburg, CA. Shango has the Racer X, I think- I am always down for a Hop Rod Rye, as well.
Aside from the shockingly good burgers, The Sterling Tavern hooked me up with one of my all-time favorite beers the other day, Anchor Liberty Ale- a summer beer, sure, but Anchor’s take on the wheat beer is superlative, I must say, if you can find it. I noted Spaten on their taps as well, and know their selection of Great Lakes is always fresh.
Thats it for June/July News anyway- I’ll get in a Mid-July review, and the new schedule will be underway. Expect more summer selections- the new FB Buffalo Lager for certain, possibly the much maligned cream ale (an American original) or something with berries, apricot… watermellon? Tune in to find out!