Friday, October 22, 2010

21st Amendment Brewing Company - Fireside Chat (Yes like FDR)

Hello hello everyone! Here I am, taking a break from writing about the amazing breweries to the north, by throwing in a random brew review. This time from a new brewery and also something I never thought I'd see on here, a beer from a can. And yes you heard me right! I am in fact reviewing a canned beer tonight.

Ok so what gives? A canned beer? Really? I know what you're thinking. Probably you are thinking exactly what I was originally thinking. The classic mindset and general association of cans with cheap beer. And it's easy to see why one would make that association: walking down the beer aisle of your local supermarket, the majority of the cheap, flavorless, watery american lagers, and cheap malt liquor comes in cans. A funny story: while I was traveling in Belgium touring the brewery in Brugges, the woman giving the tour (quite a stern and serious woman) stated quite forcefully, that good beer comes only from bottles, and never from a can. I remember thinking how right she was. So how could it be true that good canned beer actually exists? Good question. Let me attempt to explain.

Are there benefits to storing beer in a can? There certainly are. Most notably by better preventing exposure to heat, oxygen, and light. Beer stored in glass bottles of the dark brown variety are good at preventing exposure to light and the other two varieties, green glass and clear glass are ok, but sit at the bottom of the protection spectrum. Clear and green bottles are more often associated with beer not intended for cellaring (storing for long periods of time). Brown glass is better than green or clear, but purportedly, the can takes the cake for best protection and overall preservation of freshness.

What kinds of beer can I find in cans? Another good question. The varieties are all over the board. You can now find everything from IPA's to winter spiced ales, Coconut Porters to pale ales, and even Imperial Stouts. The truth is, canned beer has every bit of variety one might hope to find from bottles. Obviously the more popular route is the glass bottle, but more breweries are exploring the world of canned beer. There are approximately 30 craft breweries in the US currently distributing beer in cans, and 16 in Canada. To list a few more well-known: Oskar Blues, 21st Amendment, and New Belgium all distribute beer in cans.

Quality canned beer for the time being remains a mystery for most people, and It may take some time before the general public accepts that quality and cans can in fact go hand in hand. It took me a while to branch out and crack open a can of beer. This current sampling tonight, is the 3rd canned beer I've had. And it's true. It is good beer. So I encourage all of you to give it a shot also. Try something new. Find a can of 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer and try it out. Or perhaps a can of Kona Brewing Co's Coconut Porter. Continue with your trend of trying new beers, and reach for a 12 oz can next time, instead of a 22 oz bottle. Ok onto the good stuff!

21st Amendment Brewing Company comes to us from San Francisco, CA and they've been producing beer since 2000. They've won numerous awards and are most well known for distributing their beer in cans. You may have seen these beers in stores: Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat Beer, Brew Free Or Die IPA, Back In Black IPA, Fireside Chat Spiced Winter Ale, Monk's Blood Dark Belgian Ale.

Name: Fireside Chat Spiced Winter Ale
Category/Style: Winter Ale
ABV: 7.9%
IBU: 45
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown
Yeast Type: Unknown
Additives: Spices
Canned: Unknown

The Pour: Deep reddish brown, filtered, head is light brown and thins quickly. Head retention is poor, and lacing is non-existent.

The Nose: Sweet and malty initially, sour acetic acid notes, something heavier, dark roasted chocolate perhaps? Some spice, nutmeg, hints of coffee and cereal. Swirling reveals more depth and layers; a definite earthiness becomes noticeable. Do you think it will taste the same? Let's find out...

The Taste: Initially sweet and roasty, as the nose suggests. Bitterness and spice. Deep earthlike flavors, dirt and moss are predominant. Cinnamon and nutmeg, spicy on the tongue midway through and near the end. A slight roasted finish along with a slight lingering bitterness. Mouthfeel is light, not overcarbonated, not a heavy beer, slight alcoholic notes and warming of my throat. I kind of like this beer a lot. And it definitely got better as I worked my way down the glass.

The Verdict: My first canned winter ale. And a spiced winter ale at that! Really a nice offering. I didn't feel the spice was overpowering as with some spiced ales I've sampled in the past. It was well balanced, had characteristics of a darker heavier ale, but is not a high gravity ale by any means. Very drinkable and very much a nice ale for a cold winters night...makes me want to snuggle up by the fire and have a long conversation :] go try one!

Thanks for reading!


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