(Maximus is definetely in the seasonal spirit of things for this Wednesday's installment. Remember, to catch up with previous installments, simply enter "MAXED OUT" in the word search box provided above left)
Alright my beer-o-philes, we’re down to the sweet sixteen in the NCAA basketball tourney and in honor of the Aztecs first two tournament wins in school history I’m here to give you a little history lesson of my own. So here goes a little 101 on my Elite 8 beer styles and the beers that make them what they are. Two notes: Yes I know the Aztecs are only in the Sweet 16, but I’m feeling cocky, and if my boy Dean-o forces us to a bar where they play “We Will Rock You” while there’s still 2 minutes left in double OT then I think I’m safe. And secondly, the beers that I am listing are not necessarily the BEST of these categories, but the best examples of the style in which they are categorized. And aaaaaaawaaaaaay we go.
Hefeweizen: Light, crisp, and refreshing, with notes of banana and coriander. Typically lower in ABV, somewhere around 4.5-5%, and low on the IBUs, typically hovering around 30. This is the only beer that I would recommend serving with fruit, especially if it is a true German style hefe, so squeeze a lemon in the beer but DO NOT put the lemon inside as the rind will add too much acid to the beer. Franziskaner Hefeweizen is a perfect example of a true German style hefe as it shines with bright banana flavors. I would recommend pairing a traditional hefe with some sort of poultry or white fish dish, perhaps sushi or a chicken caesar salad. And a side note: Hefe means with yeast! I know, wicked smart.
Tripel: A spicy, crisp, and delightful Belgian style ale that tends to stay between 7-9% ABV with still mild IBUs. A common misconception is that the difference between a Belgian “simple”, dubel, tripel, and quad is how many times the beer is fermented, the amount of hops, or something else super-crazy like the amount of monks that have to be involved in the brewing process. It is simply just the amount of malt that is in each beer. A tripel doesn’t necessarily have three times the malts as a simple, but usually somewhere in that neighborhood. Delirium Tremmens is a PERFECT representation of this style, with its beautiful golden color, and the nice sharp bite that the spices provide. I would recommend going with a nice pork dish with this style, maybe even a pork shoulder with a mild molé sauce. Damn it, I should have eaten before I started writing this post!
Stout: The tall dark and handsome of the beer world is the concoction that is called a stout, I mean a porter, I mean a stout. Originally there was the stout, then the porter which was originally the lower ABV little brother to the tall dark and handsome. These days the lines are so blurred between the two that there is no real telling what is a stout and what is a porter. Speedway Stout is perhaps one of the best out there, and is a HUGE 12.6 percenter with strong notes of coffee and chocolate as you will find in many stouts and porters out there. These days they are aging stouts in bourbon barrels, mixing them with blueberries, chipotle peppers, espresso, or vanilla beans. So if you come across any of these crazy concoctions I implore you to give ‘em a try. Eat with BBQ…. Trust me. Or, drop a scoop of your favorite ice cream into the pint and make yourself a little beer float. Once again, trust me.
Lambic: There are three major categories of beers in this world…. Lager/Pilsner, Ales, and Wild beers. A lambic is in that third category, as they use spontaneous fermentation to produce them. Don’t worry, I’ll explain. So one of the most important things that you need to do when brewing is sanitize the HELL out of your equipment, but with wild ales you basically just give your tanks a little rinse and start another batch, thus allowing for bacteria to continue to grow which is why they are called wild beers! Confused? Ya, me too. Lambics tend to be a little fruity and/or a little sour. Framboise is probably the most popular type of lambic (it’s raspberry,) but there are many, many different types, fruits, and flavors. Drink with dessert, or in my case, for dessert!
California Common: Also known as Steam Beer, the California Common is an American original lager style beer. It typically has strong malt characteristics and has a stronger roasted flavor to it than your typical lagers. It is also more amber in color than a standard American lager. CCs are usually lower in the ABV category, hovering right around the 5% mark and the IBUs are often on the lower end as well. The easy choice for this category is Anchor Steam, the San Francisco original. And if I was you I’d go for a nice big rack of ribs, a mound of mashed potatoes, and some green beans to pair with this bad boy.
Saison: This style of beer is Belgian in origin and is one style of Farmhouse Ales, as they were brewed in small farming villages back in the day. They used to be brewed in the winter for consumption in the summer, so they are light both in color and in taste, with notes of coriander and banana, similar to a Hefe but you take out some of the banana and replace it with spice, thus adding alcohol…. Hooray Saison! Ommegang out of Cooperstown, NY makes a damn fine Saison called Hennepin, which is 7.7% and just a fantastic representation of what this style is. Pair this bad boy with some spicy chicken Pad-Thai and you’ll be in heaven.
Bock: One of the older styles of beer, the Bock beer goes back to medieval Germany which is no surprise if you’ve ever had one. Dark and brooding with toasted malts this Germanic delight is basically a stronger, more robust lager with a lingering finish, typically around 6-7% ABV. Doppelbocks or double-bocks are also fantastic beers and tend to have a raisiny, pruney flavor to them and are much higher in alcohol content. Shiner Bock is the standard American Bock beer, brewed in good ole’ Shiner, TX. These beers would partner well with a nice dark chocolate. Just sayin’.
Scotch Ale: This Scottish surprise also known as a “Wee Heavy” is the last on our list, and one of my favorites with its copper to medium brown color and its malty, boozy delicious aroma. They tend to be a little higher in alcohol content, coming in at around 7-9% ABV, sometimes even higher. They can be pretty bitter and are not usually for the faint hearted. Kilt Lifter is a fine example of a Scotch Style Ale from Moylans, one of my favorite breweries just outside of San Francisco and I would love nothing more than to be drinking one of those along-side breakfast for dinner, with eggs, toast, and BACON! Once again, why the heck didn’t I eat before writing this?
While these may not be my “Elite 8” styles of beer, I wanted to drop some knowledge on y’all and throw some bracket busters in there for your own personal gain. Hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Maxed Out and as always feel free to hit me up on Facebook, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in the comment section below. Oh, and GO AZTECS!
Until next time my beer loving brethren, have a beer for me.
(ed. note: Just recently we had Firestone Walker's Parabola at an unveiling event which is one of those crazy stouts Max talks about in the stout section and which we were quiet taken with though it seemed most others thought otherwise. We mention this because, also as Max suggests, we could think of nothing else while drinking that beaut than dropping a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream into our tulip glass.)