(C) 2012 popsonhops
Early humans lived a nomadic existence. They followed and hunted herds. At some point in history, these hunters established roots and became farmers. This shift isn’t totally defined and there is quite a bit of speculation on this missing piece of the human story.
Why did people abandon one lifestyle for another? Did someone say beer? Oh, that must have been me. One explanation offered does relate to beer. It goes that grain was accidentally left in pots. This grain became submerged in rain water. The resulting sugary water was then fermented by wild airborne yeasts. The resulting liquid was early beer. I guess the wanderers took a liking to a buzz and decided to dedicate their lives to getting hammered or maybe they were too intoxicated to find the herd they were following. The hypothesis may be a stretch but the invention of beer is probably on the mark.
The prominent grains for beer production are all close relatives, barley, wheat, and rye. These grains do grow in the wild and they are rich with fermentable sugars. Barley is by far the most popular brewing grain and quite a few styles of beer utilize wheat. Rye is particularly important because it can grow in colder climates even during winter months. It was quite popular as a brewing grain and virtually vanished from recipes about five hundred years ago. Why? – German purity law (Reinheitsgebot) made rye a grain strictly used for bread. It wasn’t until late in the twentieth century that rye returned to German brewing and is now bringing it’s spicy character to a number of “Rye-P-A’s” in the US. My favorite examples are readily available at most good beer stores. There is Founders’ Founders Red’s Rye 92 Points and then there’s also Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye 92 Points
Tastings: July 20, 2012
Style: Rye Hatter (Ale – Rye)
This one is from Michigan brewer – New Holland. Has an ABV of 6.5%, pours a ruby-ish amber. First impression, thin, subtle but somewhat complex. I get earthy, pepper/spicy and rye right up front followed by a wisp of burnt sweet malt followed by a tart citric hop finish. A bit too thin and the lingering bitterness isn’t all that pleasant. I’d put it at 83 points.
Tasting: July 22, 2012
Style: Black IPA
Next up is a “Black IPA”. There has been much debate about the name of this style — is it a black IPA or a Cascadian Dark Ale. I prefer Black IPA – easy to remember. Cola brown — goes still quite quickly. My impression of this ale is that it’s pretty subdued. I get the roasted grain – smoky and woody. Hops come in as earthy pepper. Very thin mouthfeel. This is an okay introduction to the style — but I prefer hoppier versions. I’ll put this at 79 points.