Shakespeare in Beer

Ms. Tierney Pomone from Stouts & Stilettos reached out to me and offered the opportunity to do a beer review together. What you see here is our first She Said/He Said Beer Review. We took a stab at Kettleface by Columbia Kettle Works and St. Boniface Brewing Co. 

Be sure to follow Tierney on twitter and bookmark her very nice website.

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Tierney, Kettleface and Shakespeare

Tierney: So, not every day is perfect, and most days are nowhere close to it. This is sometimes why we find ourselves drinking. While certainly not the best coping mechanism, there’s truly an art to taking the edge off a bit while distracting yourself with ‘The People of Happy Hour’ and chatting with your local bartender.

Today I took advantage of this solace directly across the street at the Midtown Tavern. I enjoyed a few Nugget Nectars, a few chicken wings, and the company of at first no one at all, then a good friend, then once again my own solitude.

Tonight was the perfect moment to dive into Kettleface. I’m feeling perfectly honest and also hopeful that once I crack this can I’ll continue to find comfort in a delicious brew.

Since it’s in a can, and called Kettleface, I obviously must drink it direct from the can to my face right? Well, I want to see its color and get a bit of the aroma, so I did pour a small amount into a small snifter for judgment. It’s a deep amber color, and the aroma is very bready, almost biscuity.

Okay, maybe the Nugget is interfering. I just went and drank some water, grabbed a few carrots from the fridge, and queued up some Netflix. Ah Shakespeare in Love, an old favorite. Let’s enjoy this beer with Joseph Fiennes on the tv.

So, I dig into Kettleface, and it was not what I expected. The can tells me it’s a double dry-hopped Imperial Red Ale. Sweet, can’t wait to dig into this hopped up red! Okay wait, at first taste that’s not what’s happening. It’s super grainy. Hang on, more water, more carrots, let’s watch more movie and come back.

Wait wait wait. Untappd says this is 9.2% ABV? My can doesn’t say that! Pretty sure you have to put that somewhere on the label, but okay, here we go. So some of the hops are coming through now, maybe I was just expecting the wrong hop flavor? It says there are Simcoe and Centennial – the less aggressive flavor makes more sense now. Going into a beer blind will give you the most honest outcome, and I’m glad I knew next to nothing about this before opening.

I watched a little more movie and waited for it to warm, hoping this would make it easier to decipher the flavors. 20 minutes into the movie, 20 minutes into this beer. The hops are coming forward, but not in a way I wanted them too. This beer is getting bitter now, but still paired with that grainy flavor I just can’t shake. I don’t know what to do, I don’t really like it. I really want to like it, I don’t want to give up!

“Stage love will never be true love” alas they are right, as I don’t love this beer, and don’t want to pretend that I do. I don’t want to drink the rest. It’s so bitter yet grainy. It’s everything I don’t love in a beer. Parting is such sweet sorrow dear Kettleface, but you were fated for someone else…

Bearcat:

/cracks open Kettleface

//opens email

 ///sips

Hmmm… “The Lady doth protest too much” or not enough. I have known you long enough to know that you don’t like it. Extra points to you for “an honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” Yet I will ask you to drink it again and see if you remain unimpressed.

I very much like this beer but my biases are all on display here. Columbia Kettle Works is as close to a neighborhood brewery as I am ever going to get. I like their beers and mostly I cheer them on as they make slow steady improvements and growth. So T and dear reader, know that “love is blind, and lovers cannot see”.

I think if you put Nugget Nectar and Kettleface side-by-side you are going to see disappointment as they are in some ways similar but the Nugget Nectar is far more devoted to the hop. Kettleface is not a hop bomb; something to which we have come accustomed.

I like the bitterness as it warms slightly. I think it helps to broaden the flavor profile but it can be off-putting as the beer reaches room temperature. Some beers really open up as they reach this state and improve. Kettleface is best served cool or cold and in that sense, the pounder may do it some disservice.

As You Like It straight from the can, I do think you may have cut off some of the aromas and some nuance from the volatile elements. I love drinking beers from the can but in the glass, this beer was quaffable and did not linger. For me… when it comes to this beer, “I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it” and maybe “my love’s more richer than my tongue.”

I do think this is a great beer but my biases are all out there.  “Above all; To thine own self be true…” this beer may not be for you.

Yes, it is a bit bitter but I will leave you with one last Shakespeare quote: “The course of true love never did run smooth”.

Who Am I To Write About Beer?

Beacat on Beer

So the question has been posed: How do you tackle praising or disliking a beer? Everyone’s palate is different, who are you to be the arbiter of taste?

Or in short… Who the hell are you to call BS on a beer?

Let me begin by saying, Bearcat on Beer is a vanity project. It is a hobby. This is not my job. I am about as qualified as anyone else is for their hobby. When I say this is a “vanity project” it is as clear a description as I can give it. Anyone that writes with the intent of others to read it naturally has enough of an ego to think that their opinion matters.

So what makes me worthy of posting about beers here on this website?

First, my nickname since college is Bearcat. So that checks the first box; I got the name.

Secondly, I bought the domain so that takes care of the the rest.

Seriously and to the point, I have consumed a lot of beer over the years. (Ed. Yeah, me too.) I have been searching high and low for quality craft beers for more than a decade. Yet I don’t have any professional training. My taste is developed via drinking and talking about beers with my fellow craft beer drinkers. That’s it.

Do I have the best, most refined palate? Nope. Never claimed to.

What I hope to have, is an entertaining beer blog. This blog is about finding a different perspective when discussing beer, the craft beer industry, and its culture. I don’t do straight “beer reviews.” You can get those elsewhere. I work to find a pop culture, sports, low brow humor or a juxtaposition to weave within the post.

I hope that more often than not these posts entertain and in some some way inform.

Generally, I don’t trash or rip a beer or brewery. It is not in my nature to hammer another man or woman’s hard work on this blog.

But I did that with the last post. I thought the beer was not good. But the post started in my head with a joke about Mango Bomb being like a three breasted mutant hooker. That is how many of these posts start. A stupid joke about a 1990 sci-fi movie or wanting to do a whole posting about beer and Star Wars.

A couple people reached out on Twitter to let me know they agreed that Mango Bomb sucked. A couple spoke up and said it was good. One went further and stated their non-craft beer drinking friends liked it. That’s cool.

In the end… WTF do I know? I know what I like and why I like it. If I can communicate that and at least be entertaining enough for you to come back and read the next post then my ego gets the stroke that this vanity project was designed to deliver.

But I promise to never just rip a beer or a brewery just because my ego likes clicks on a website.

Finally, Al reached out to me on Twitter and acknowledged and complemented the post. For all the clicks and comments the post generated, none… none were more appreciated than that one. I have been a loyal customer for years, that is more true today.

Post Script:

In high school I took four years of art class from a nun who hammered me year-after-year with brutal projects and assignments. My GPA could have been bolstered by taking Choir, but Sister Dorothy left you with more than just the easy A. The most important lesson: “It is not enough to have an opinion about a work of art. You need to be able to properly express why you do or do not like something.” Matters of taste are subjective but quality work is not. You choose to not like a work of art but you need to explain why it is either well-made or not. This is fundamental to my idea of properly reviewing a beer.

Some art is designed to be offensive, difficult to witness, or even loathsome.  That does not make it poor work. It is reasonable to not like something but consider it great work, a master stroke even. You can also have a taste for crap and love it.

Craft beer may be treated as art. 

Maybe it should be treated as art. I think so.

My Dad always says and reminds me: “De gustibus non est disputandum.” I will never forget it.

 

Fresh Flick and a Fresh Beer.

Brewed in the Burg

This past weekend GK Visual and SaraBozich.com released Brewed in the Burg, a documentary now available online at Vimeo. This film debuted during Harrisburg Beer Week to resounding praise.

I caught it then but now that it is online, I wanted to take the time to really digest the film. It was an opportunity to pick up on all the nuance and ideas kicked around by the Who’s Who of the Harrisburg-area craft beer industry. It is an impressive line up of interviews:

So I hunted down the freshest local beer I could find to enjoy while watching. I found the perfect beer. It was a Crowler of Pizza Boy’s Murren River IPA; a super fresh batch tapped just two days prior (7/12/15).
The Murren River was piney and dank in the nose. Heady as hell, this straw colored American IPA is excellent from start to finish. Well bodied with a great clean mouth feel it providing a firm head that laced the glass perfectly. Murren River had a slight sweetness that was cut with balanced piney and citrus hops. The finish is of orange and a subtle hint of earth and grass. It came with a long dry finish that belies the easy drinking tones. This beer clocks in like a Cruiserweight with 7.6% ABV but drinks well below its weight class.

I loved this beer and it merges perfectly with a important quality of craft beer discussed within Brewed in the Burg. Right in the middle, it discusses the importance of freshness. This is the obvious and unassailable advantage of drinking local craft beer. It is impossible to get a beer as fresh as I did today any other way. This matters. It tastes better and you are getting the beer exactly as the brewer intended.

The other themes discussed are true of any craft beer community: supporting local business, fraternity between brewers, friendships cultivated among beer drinkers and a love for great beer.

The way this film is true to Harrisburg is the people on which it focuses. It could get easily lost that this documentary is about just craft beer brewed in Harrisburg. What Sara and GK Visual have done is weave a story about local brewers, small businessmen and women, beer drinkers and people that write about it or just enjoy drinking it. These are salt of the earth people that are doing extraordinary things in an extraordinary industry. Stick around and watch the outtakes… This was a great reminder that these are just hardworking people; many of them making good on a dream.

Craft beer becomes a conduit for telling their story. That is the take away from Brewed in the Burg. The slickly shot and edited documentary is about the people that make the local craft beer industry possible.

Please check out the video at http://vimeo.com/gkvisual/brewedintheburg and use the tip jar. Brewed in the Burg is a movie worth a couple of your bucks. This doc will give you an understanding of how a sublime Intangible Ale, a crisp Sunshine Pils or whatever you are nursing at ZerØday got into your glass. Through people’s hard work and dedication to the craft of brewing beer.