Have you ever enjoyed something for so long that you end up suffering “palate fatigue?” Even with roughly 90 traditional and relatively recent styles of beer available between the two families it’s lager and India Pale Ale that rule the roost. As one who actually gets paid to drink beer, I end up sampling a lot of lager and IPA. I think I may have hit a wall.
Let me clarify, however, that I am not giving up on beer. Taverns would go into arrears. The economies of small countries would shift just enough leading to the overthrow of their governments. I’d be the human equivalent of the current oil glut; the surplus of grain and hops would rot in the fields.
Well, maybe I don’t drink that much beer. Keep running my gob like that and someone’s going to throw me into an intervention. Anyway, back to what I was saying.
I was at home, sitting down to dinner and something didn’t seem right. The IPA was dull. My Hefeweizen, too sweet. Lager seemed lifeless. And that was before dessert! Again, kidding. But, yeah, my palate simply didn’t want any more. Don’t panic, I thought to myself. A minute later I literally almost tripped over my copy of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ I’ve always said there’s something wrong with the universe.
I kept trying other breweries’ core brands (their year-round available items) and realized that A) I’m becoming spoiled on the rare and exotic, and B) I should probably have a glass of wine occasionally, just to break up the monotony. Wasn’t I just championing the notion of celebrating the classics not last week? Am I the only one who feels jaded? Why else are craft brewers constantly tinkering and experimenting?
Boredom can also serve as one of invention’s parental units and brewers have long combined non-traditional grains with hops of varying alpha- and beta- acids hoping to come up with the next big thing. It’s this flexibility that allows beer to be so diverse and interesting.
Case in point, I recently acquired a keg from our Santa Rosa Beach neighbors, Idyll Hounds Brewing. The keg collar was cryptic; the name “Red #2” scrawled in Sharpie marker. I called up their brew master, Shawn Sherman, for details. Low-hopped and full of Munich malt with a bunch of other Bavarian beer ingredients was the answer. So, it’s a lager? Nope. Brewed ale temperature. Call it a Gulf Coast Kölsch? Can’t. It came out red and since it’s nowhere near as hoppy as their recently-released India Red, it’s simply Red #2.
Stylistically this beer might have an identity crisis but its flavor and body sure don’t! Copper amber in color with a super-fluffy head, Red #2 has scents of toasty grain, bruleed sugar and herbaceous hops. And talk about balance! There’s just enough hop bitterness here to keep the big malt presence from overwhelming. Full of caramel crème, orange peel and unsweetened iced tea, I thought the mouth feel would be rich but it’s surprisingly not!
Thank you, Idyll Hounds, for coming up with something new under our sun and reinvigorating this tired palate.