New Belgium Brewing Co.’s “Snapshot Wheat”

February 4, 2014

In a digital age where the younger generations rely more upon modern technology, print media is dying along with other highly-expressive forms of communication.  No where do I feel this is happening more than in photography.

Today’s cellular phones have better picture-taking abilities than my old Canon AE-1.  Heck, they are faster and stronger computers than the Apple II-E I had as a kid.  Combine that kind of tech with complete portability and software applications that easily doctor up any photo and suddenly everyone’s Ansel Adams.

Don’t get me wrong.  I totally recognize the importance of information sharing.  If it wasn’t for cell phones’ ubiquitous presence we wouldn’t have felt the same impact of Egypt’s citizen uprising, the amazement of the Russian meteor airblast or the relief of seeing the passengers of Flight 1549 safely evacuate the plane crash on the Hudson River.  All shot in as it happened.

As a form of artistic expression, however, it’s not the same.  The skill and intent of a photographer with a keen eye jumps out of their work.  You can actually feel their emotion when the shot is right.  When it’s great, it’s instantaneous.  You never have to think about it, it just grabs you.  It’s truly art.

See, while it’s great that we have the tools to cover anything important at any time, most of what the technology is used for is mediocre and banal.  A real photographer is visually hunting for a story to tell in a single image.

New Belgium’s brewing staff captured the image of a style dying in much of America just like classic photography’s abandonment.  Apropos to the spirit, they called it Snapshot.

Slightly funky, sour beer is a style largely ignored outside of more metropolitan locations much like appreciation of photography.  One of photography’s greatest strengths is that you don’t have to be an art major to get “it.”  This sentiment has been applied to Snapshot; you don’t have to be an expert to discern why the beer is great while, at the same time, a more educated palate knows exactly why it rocks.

Like a photographer armed with light meters, special lenses and training on angles and f-stops, there’s a lot that goes into making Snapshot that a casual glance won’t tell you.  Step one is adding lactobacillus bacteria to the grain wort.  This causes a sourness that coaxes extra citrus out of the wheat base of this hazy, straw-color ale.  Additional lemon notes come from coriander while Grains of Paradise lend exotic flavors of Trade Route spice.  White pepper, cardamom and ginger mingle with a light bread-like profile.  Overall, Snapshot begins with a massive, fluffy head before delivering a crisp, effervescent body and a tangy, spicy, clean finish.

Take a picture, it’ll last longer.  With Snapshot, I certainly hope that’s the case.