June/July 2008

Lager & Chick Beers

Do chicks like beer? Sure, they do. Generally, chicks prefer more flavorful beers. That doesn't mean we only like fruity beers and certainly not only light beers, although that's the typical chick beer reputation. Whenever I talk to a woman who says she doesn't like beer, I view it as a challenge. She just hasn't found the right beer yet. Thus begins the Chick Beer journey.
The idea was to gather a special, all women Beer Beacon panel to taste what breweries consider chick beers. A noble cause but wrought with adversity. As I glanced over the bar looking for the Beer Beacon tasters, I noticed only 4 of the 30 women at The Blue Tusk-our tasting site-were drinking beer. This is the reality we face. Women feel more comfortable drinking wine. It's more sophisticated and ladylike. To further complicate our mission, I was also surprised to hear that some of the brewers didn't want their beer labeled as a Chick Beer. Although not the intention, I understand the market risks. Gentle persuasion and guided beer exploration are the most successful techniques in developing chick beer friendships.
The Beer Diva and the Beer Beacon tasters gathered together at The Blue Tusk in Syracuse and were delighted to share the tastes of chick beers. An all women panel, this was the first Beer Beacon tasting for almost everyone. We accomplished the goal of widening chick beer horizons. All of us intend to get together again to further our beer exploration journey.
A sincere appreciation goes out to the brave and big-hearted breweries that sent us samples. We also appreciate the friendly staff at The Blue Tusk who graciously attended to all our requests. For those unfortunates who have not had the pleasure of experiencing The Blue Tusk, the beer list is fabulous and the food is exceptional - a beer lover's utopia. And a special thank you goes out to the Honeyman, who pitch-hit as beer steward.

The next Beer Beacon tasting will be fall seasonal beers. Anything autumn colored will be enthusiastically reviewed by the regular Beer Beacon crew the first week of July.

The Beers:

Boston Beer Company Sam Adams Summer Ale
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, Massachutesetts 02210

The night started off beautifully, both warm and sunny with a crisp, light golden ale. Steffpuff noticed a mild banana aroma and surmised that it must be a wheat beer. Jamie found the flavor slightly grassy, but clean. Border Collie noted the cloudiness and light citrus flavor. Ali Berry, the Beer Virgin, thought the flavor was a bit woodsy, but definitely one she would drink again. The Beer Diva usually likes more body, but this one was interestingly sizzling. Jamie said it had a quick head and it was so refreshing that it would be easy to drink quickly. Sea Hag agreed, this one would be great on a hot summer day (or on the boat) when you're really thirsty. The panel decided that the high carbonation masked the flavors in the beer -it was like a Seltzer Beer - very thirst quenching.

Anheuser Busch Sun Dog Amber Wheat Ale
One Busch Place, St. Louis, MO 63118

The bouquet on this one was complex. Steffpuff commented on the strong banana smell and Border Collie thought it was both funky and tasty. Jamie noticed the fruity, estery aroma and nice body feel and said it was “mellow, somewhat malty”. The Beer Virgin found the aftertaste a bit powerful, but drinkable. The Sea Hag noted the dark golden amber color with good head retention. The Beer Diva thought it was enjoyable, especially for those not into overly hoppy beers. Overall, the panel agreed it was refreshingly crisp and a great transition to beers with more flavor.

Empire Brewing Company Aphrodisiac Ale
120 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY 13202

When Tim Butler, the brewer at Empire revealed the name of the beer for the Beer Beacon tasting, the Beer Diva suspected ulterior motives for the all woman panel. “Are you trying to get us in trouble?” she teased. Well, this kind of trouble we like. Sea Hag liked the spicy bouquet - “it reminds me of gingerbread”. Jamie thought the aroma was a bit floral along with the ginger spice and said the herbal flavor sits right up front on the tongue. Steffpuff thought the taste was herbaceous with a cinnamon burn at the end. Border Collie found the aftertaste hoppy and bitter. Ali Berry, the Beer Virgin was intrigued, but cautious - “it comes on a little strong, but I'm surprised I can drink this spicy of a beer”. The taste evolves as you drink it. Jamie commented that this beer would be a great match with Asian food. Overall the panel agreed that this beer was both exciting and extremely flavorful.

Boston Beer Company Sam Adams Cherry Wheat Ale
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, Massachutesetts 02210

Powerfully strong aroma, like amaretto and almonds was the Beer Beacon panels' first impression. Sea Hag commented on the color, a deep rose amber and “the fruity, nutty flavor is very nice”. Steffpuff agreed, the flavor was pleasant, with a defiant aftertaste - “almost like Dr. Pepper”. Jamie thought it lacked body but was intensely aromatic. The Beer Diva loves the cherry almandine bouquet, but found it too sweet for more than special occasions. Berry said it tasted “yummy”, almost chocolaty and would be great with dessert. Especially ice cream, added Border Collie.

Magic Hat Brewing Company Lucky Kat IPA
5 Bartlett Bay Road, So. Burlington, Vermont 05403

“Now this one's right up my alley!” proclaimed Sea Hag, a devoted hophead. The aroma is hoppy and citrusy, “like tangelos” Border Collie asserted. Steffpuff thought it smelled like a late harvest Riesling with a
very pleasant after taste. Jamie commented on the dark orange amber color and the creamy head, but confessed she's not really into hops. Alas, the
Beer Virgin couldn't finish hers and kindly relinquished it to the Beer Diva who is notorious for her hops appreciation. A caramel toffee malt flavor
is well balanced with citrus hops; Lucky Kat is lightly carbonated with a smooth, rich body. The Beer Beacon panel concluded it was complex
and eagerly hoppy.

Orlio Organic Beer Company Common Ale
5 Bartlett Bay Road, So. Burlington, Vermont 05403

The aroma is subtle noted Jamie; it's not quite as hoppy with nice, creamy malt. The deep reddish amber color had a good head and was mildly carbonated, noted Ali Berry, “although a bit too bitter for my novice palate.” Sea Hag picked up a skanky odor, but thought it tasted much better than it smelled. Border Collie liked the lingering, mildly hoppy aftertaste. Steffpuff thought it was smooth and velvety, with a nice balance of malty sweetness and bitter hops. The Beer Diva found it graceful and not aggressively hoppy.

Boston Beer Company Sam Adams Boston Lager
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, Massachutesetts 02210

Steffpuff recalled the aroma of a freshly baked cake with slight vanilla overtones. Border Collie agreed and said it was clean and refreshing. Jamie found it quite tasty, perfectly balanced and easy to drink. Ali Berry, the Beer Virgin is definitely going to buy this one - “I might even keep some in my refrigerator.” Sea Hag thought there was a roasty coffee bean smell and said although it was light on the hops; she liked it and would drink another pint. The Beer Diva commented that the beer, like the evening, was both satisfying and enjoyable.

--- by The Beer Diva, Beer Beacon columnist

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