August/September 2010

Bitches of Bitter Beers

The bitch word has become so absorbed into our culture with so many different contexts that it can be both empowering and offensive. No insult to me; I am definitely a beer bitch. As with most discerning beer drinkers, my taste buds demand more than swill to satisfy. To those I may have offended or excluded by the use of the word bitch, may I suggest you lighten up, drink a craft beer and don't take yourself so seriously.

The Beer Beacon mission is to enhance and develop beer consumers and further beer education with interesting beer adventures. We celebrate the growing presence of women in the beer world and had so much fun doing the all women panel last time, we rounded up another wild pack for the Bitter Bitches tasting. Joining us were a few younger pups and several “not worthy of learning new tricks” but always interested in tasting new brews. Not being a big hop lover, Half Pint volunteered to steward and was easily trained and marvelously adept at ordering and pacing the brew parade.

To all the generous breweries that bravely sent samples to the Beer Beacon for this bitterly
bitching fun tasting, we send you wet kisses and our loyal and humble thanks. To the daring
Bitches of Bitter, we raise our fists in celebration of more women in beer world and to female tails wagging the dog of beer enthusiasts everywhere. Cheers to more beer lovers!

Next: Fall Seasonals

The Place:
This being the longest “dog days of summer” in a coon's age, we opted for the comfortably
air-conditioned J. Ryans on Water Street in Syracuse. With 66 taps of an outstanding variety, there is
always beer to please even the biggest beer bitches. The daily beer specials are a great way to expand
your craft beer experience. The wings and chicken quesadillas are fabulous and not over-priced in this dog
eat dog world. The staff is extremely knowledgeable about beer and graciously kind and quick to serve all
that tuck their tails on a stool at the bar or gather at tables both inside and outdoors on the patio. A pool table, darts, and a good selection of bottled beer to go, round out the top dog J Ryans experience.

The Tasters:
The Beer Diva, Half Pint, Babs, Sea Hag, Steffpuff, Border Collie, Miss, Sidekick, Proxy.

The Method:
Tasters are served each beer, with only the information of the style the brewery is emulating, when there is a style. The beer name and brewery are revealed to the tasters as each next blind round is served.und is served.

The Beers:

Jamaica Sunset India Pale Ale, Mad River Brewing Co.
101 Taylor Way, Blue Lake, CA

Babs described appearance as golden amber, somewhat cloudy with a creamy little head. Miss noted the subtle aroma of light fruity hops and was excited by the first taste of yummy hops. “I like the mild fruit hop flavor”, agreed Sidekick. The Beer Diva appreciated the long lasting, moderately bitter aftertaste and found the beer pleasantly satisfying. Steffpuff laughed and said it was “tingly on her tongue”. Proxy would reach for this refreshing beer after a long hot day at work.

Pale Ale, Empire Brewery
120 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY

Sea Hag noted the clear golden color and nice lacing effect. “The aroma is funky wine fruits”, said the Beer Diva. Sidekick liked the mild hop bitterness in the flavor, but would have liked a little more substance. Babs called it estery and hoppy with a taste much different than the smell. Border Collie found the body light and the hops “sticky”. We chuckled at Steffpuff's description as “flabby” and decided it would go great with a mixed green salad and fresh fruits.

Saranac India Pale Ale, Matt Brewing Co.
811 Edward Street Utica, NY

Proxy commented on the clear, golden color and the light malt and hop aroma. Brightly carbonated, noted Steffpuff. Babs tasted some delicious mild tangerine flavors and a nice bitter hoppiness that comes out without being overpowering. Sea Hag liked the initial taste of mild biscuit malt that swiftly moved to a brief hoppy bitter finish. Miss thought it was nice light IPA that would go well with pizza or grilled burgers.

India Pale Ale, Avery Brewing Co.
5763 Arapahoe Ave. #E, Boulder, CO

At first sip, we all pulled our glasses closer, eyed each other like a gang of thirsty dogs, on the hunt for more than a three-ounce taste. The aroma brought back fond memories of pineapple grapefruit juice to Sea Hag. Earthy hops and a tasty biscuit malt backbone, commented Miss. Border Collie found it slightly sweet and intensely hoppy with a medium thick body. Sidekick noted the mildly astringent and short fruity bitter aftertaste left you recklessly wanting more. “Could be trouble here”, remarked the Beer Diva. We all thought this beer would match well with Shrimp Scampi or Thai food.

India Pale Ale, Empire Brewery
120 Walton Street, Syracuse, NY

A clear golden amber with a light citrus fruit and grass aroma, commented Steffpuff. Border Collie loved the grapefruit rind flavor. Babs found the body lightly carbonated or foamy with a pleasantly long hoppy, bitter finish. Sidekick described it as “outdoorsy” and to our simultaneous wrinkled brow response she explained, “a slightly alcoholic, camp fire beer”. We concluded the best food match for this beer was spicy curry or hot salsa and chips.

India Pale Ale, Lakefront Brewing Co.
1872 N. Commerce Street, Milwaukee, WI

Proxy described the appearance as real amber, both for its cloudiness
and the orange to gold brown color variation. Sea Hag smelled pine needles and Steffpuff agreed this was a more resinous hop flavor. Babs noted the wonderful creamy, intense malt and hop flavor that mellows out in the finish. Border Collie remarked on the freshness, the clean, tight body that shows its strength at first and then relaxes to a smooth middle and ends crisply. Sidekick suggested pairing this beer with crunchy fried foods and the panel agreed this was a fried chicken, “picnic basket in the park” beer.

Double Dread Imperial Red Ale, Mad River Brewing Co.
101 Taylor Way, Blue Lake, CA

Wide-eyed in anticipation, Miss noted the reddish brown color and the enticing chocolate aroma. Babs found it creamy with a light caramel and slight alcoholic flavor that finished with a grapefruit hop kick. Border Collie thought it was malty dry and chewy like oatmeal. Sidekick commented that the sweet bitter taste lingered nicely. Steffpuff recommended a beef stew or grilled flank steaks would stand up to this hearty beer, while Proxy would savor it for dessert.

Fixed Gear American Red Ale , Lakefront Brewing Co.
1872 N. Commerce Street, Milwaukee, WI

Babs commented on the gorgeous crimson color with huge bubbles and a marshmallow head. Sea Hag liked the complex fruit, floral and pine hops along with caramel toasted malt contrast. A very grassy aroma, with a bitter hop complexity and then a bluntly sharp finish, remarked Sidekick. Steffpuff found the taste smooth and interestingly, both sweet and dry. Proxy said it was earthy and bittersweet, like sex in the rain.

Saranac Imperial India Pale Ale, Matt Brewing Co.
811 Edward Street Utica, NY

Miss commented on the extraordinary head and pretty lacing. Steffpuff described the aroma as hints of caramel and molasses. The Beer Diva tasted raisins and chocolate with a hoppy light creamy finish. Sea Hag liked the taste, but this puppy was too big for her. Proxy suggested it would be an excellent nightcap at home after a multiple course dinner. Babs likened it to the “sherry of beers”. Sidekick summed it up for all of us: “This is deadly! Can we split the next one?”

Steelhead Double India Pale Ale , Mad River Brewing Co.
101 Taylor Way, Blue Lake, CA

Sea Hag noted the cloudy, orange brown color and light musky hop aroma. Sidekick found it interesting as the body was heavy like syrup with a light hoppy aftertaste. Proxy said it was silky and very malty
with a caramel taste. Miss thought it was too sweet and it reminded Steffpuff of real, almost bitter, dark chocolate. Babs said the malt and hops smoothed the light alcohol taste. Border Collie called it “Overkill
or Roadkill”. This strong beer had us all going to the dogs and begging for chips.

Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale , Lakefront Brewing Co.
1872 N. Commerce Street, Milwaukee, WI

Babs aptly described the color as beautiful ruby brown with a creamy head and pretty lacing. Border Collie smelled a pleasantly burnt toasted caramel fragrance. Proxy noted the light malty molasses and dry sweet raisins taste with a touch of hops. Miss loved the complex character and creamy intense body. Steffpuff said she would pair this with filet mignon or a rich dessert. We all thought about slinking off to bed with a big bottle of this bottle of “pure Milwaukee Genius” to share with our favorite hound dog.


--- by The Beer Diva, Beer Beacon columnist

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