2016! It’s been almost a week and it still has that new car smell. January begins another gravitational sweep around our star and a new calendar is opened. Renewal and rejuvenation can begin.
Resolutions are made. I have but one for my readers and that is to strive to be more able to relate infotainment. I feel like I kind of phoned it in last week – what with the stress ball that is planning for 30,000 guests at your front porch on New Year’s Eve and all – and for that I need to be a better writer.
A new year means that change is coming. There have already been a couple of ripples in the water – or beer, if you prefer – signaling the greater wave to come to shore. With very little new under the sun, hybrid is going to be the brewing world’s next buzz-word.
We’ve talked recently about “black” IPA. How can India PALE Ale be black? Fine, call it Cascadian Dark Ale or whatever. As if dark beer can’t be insanely hoppy. To paraphrase from the t-shirt, “Beer See No Color.”
Kölschbier was the O.G. hybrid. Dating back to just over 100 years, this German beer makes the most of Lager ingredients and technique while being top-fermented as ale.
There are prominent East- and West-Coast breweries relying heavily upon their laboratories; anything from running spectral analysis on ancient drinking vessels to determine the ingredients and recipes to using modern technology so as to enhance the characteristics of the ingredients in new ways. With these we’ve seen reverse-engineered hybrids (by our current standards) and new styles take shape.
Should we delve into why this hybrid trend is such a thing? If we do, it probably won’t take much scratching to get to the reasons. The main one is boredom. Beer drinkers once thought luke-warm adjunct lager was all they needed until someone turned them on to American pale ale or a solid amber ale. After that it became a game of “collect them all.” But what to do once the end of the alphabet has been achieved?
This calls for something completely new. I’d like to turn to Tony Magee and his masters of all things hoppy at Lagunitas Brewing. Their latest One-Hitter Series is a non-stout stout.
Okay, that sounds confusing. Here’s the deal: It’s a stout by technique minus the roasted grains, so no dark color and flavors. Non-roasted malted oats were used in place of malted barley to provide the distinctive sweetness while truck-loads of hops bring the bitter balance. The abundance of ultra-sticky hop oil leaves nebula-like lacing while releasing strong, pleasant scents of citrus and tropical fruits. This golden-blonde head-scratcher is a neutron bomb of hops with a creamy dose of oat sweetness. Mango, grapefruit, pine, lime, caramel, pineapple and a faint drop of maple all stand at the X-Y-Z axis of a graph pointing to all things everywhere at once. Bitter Oats’ body belies its appearance; a little slick and chewy with moderate carbonation.
Call it an Oat IPA, call it a Blonde Stout or just call it by name… Like Sam Cooke said, “Change is gonna come.” Be ready. Lagunits certainly is.