Palestine Magazine October 2018 - Page 29

have seen the märzen replaced by a lighter, more quaffable version, called “festbier.” So if Oktoberfest is too heavy for you, try a festbier, instead. Fall is when we see fresh hopped or wet hopped beers. After har- vest, hops will spoil if they are not dried. This is the only time you can use them fresh. Undried hops are tricky to use. They are less concentrated, so you have to use more than usual. You have only 24 hours from the moment they are harvested. They have to be over- nighted, and brewers need to be ready to brew as soon as they come in. Don’t miss out on these beers. They have a distinct grassy flavor with low bitterness. Fresh hop beers have an extremely short shelf life. So drink up! WINTER When the weather is cold and icy, stay warm indoors, relax, and catch up with family and friends. The “winter warmer” beers are perfect for shaking off the frost. Strong and filling, they often have a little alcohol burn to warm you up. These beers age well. You’ll often find them aged by the brewery in rum or bourbon barrels. Those are a real treat. The closer Christmas gets, the more spiced ales we see. Look for “wassail ale” to get you into the spirit. English strong ales are popular winter warmers. They are strong brown ales, old ales, and barleywines. They have deep complex malt characteristics that showcase the talents of their maltsters. Lots of dark bread, plum, date, raisin, toffee, caramel, and maple flavors. Scots have an ale they call a “wee heavy.” It’s a thick and malty brew, sure to warm your belly. The Germans make “doppelbock” (double bock), a strong, sweet, dark lager. If you’re lucky enough to find it, try a super strong version called “eisbock,” a doppelbock strengthened by freezing it and removing the ice (only the water freezes). Dark Belgian strong ales also are popular wintertime beers. They have Belgian candy sugar added during brewing, which strengthens the beer without the heaviness that comes with a lot of malt. They also retain great fruit and caramel flavors. The real treat, though, is the special yeasts these beers use that add floral flavors and aromas found only in Belgian ales. They tend to be sold bottle-conditioned, which means the beer naturally carbonates by refermenting in the bottle. This makes them sparkly, like champagne. Many will have a cork and cage, like a champagne bottle. Numerous lighter winter beers are spiced and festive, without the extra strength. Always check the percentage of alcohol to avoid sur- prises. Some of these beers do not taste as strong as they are. SPRING Spring showcases some German classics, such as the light and bready “helles” and the “maibock” (may bock). Doppelbock, while being a great winter beer, has some springtime historical significance. It was designed by monks for their Lenten fasts. Breweries sometimes release fruit beers in the spring. Most often these are light wheat ales with fruit, such as raspberry, peach, cherry, or mango added. As the weather warms, these beers can be quite refreshing. Check the dates when you buy them. They are best con- sumed fresh! Saint Patrick’s Day makes copious amounts of stout a springtime tradition. The dark roasted coffee-like flavors are hearty without being too strong. Traditionally, Belgian “saisons” (also known as farmhouse ales) are brewed in spring. Saison is French for season and was brewed at farmhouses during early spring to last through the summer (not unlike the German märzen). Saisons are fermented extra warm, in temperatures that would spoil most beers. Saison yeast is different, however. At normal fermenting temperatures, the yeast tastes like most Belgian yeast – floral and fruity. Higher temperatures result in peppery, spicy flavors that have a drying effect. Add some German or Czech hops and, voila! Saisons come in different strengths and fla- vors, from strong and fruity to sour and funky. SUMMER Summer is hot. There’s much sun and a lot of outside work and play. All this makes you hot and thirsty. The beers of summer are cold and refreshing. Light lagers, like the pilsner. are tops. Pilsners are hoppy and summer-ready. Blonde and golden ales are light and easy, finished with a little fruitiness. Wheat beers abound in summer. The German “weisse,” or “he- feweizen,” is a light unfiltered wheat ale with a refreshing flavor reminiscent of cloves. The American version will have a banana flavor rather than clove. Belgian style “witbier” (white ale) is an unfiltered wheat beer similar to the hefeweizen, except that coriander and orange peel are added. Sour wheat beers are popular in summer. Rising in popularity, Berliner weisse is a refreshing sour wheat ale that undergoes a sour fermentation. Its cousin “gose” is similar but is brewed with coriander and salt. Both beers are frequently brewed with fruit, such as lime, grapefruit, and cherry. Summer release IPAs are popular these days. Hazy New England style IPAs are cloudy, low-bitterness, heavily hopped beers. They have a juicy tropical fruity flavor, thanks to the hops. Fruit IPAs are an- other option. Hops have flavors that mimic fruit, so why not add fruit to the brew itself? Genius! Light session IPAs are great for the heat as well, with a lighter alcohol and body but with all the aggressive hop flavors you expect from an India pale ale. After selling that pallet of Pump- kin Head to Jim, I spent the next several weeks maintaining the dis- play, having tastings, talking it up to customers, and selling all of it. Jim was impressed. He wanted to do another pallet display of some- thing new. “What do you suggest?” he asked. “We just got a Christmas wassail in this week.” Can you get me 60 cases tomorrow?” “My pleasure,” I said, smil- ing. “I know just where we can put it. Follow me.” Sweet. ~