Dave Smalley once sang the following admission for the band All, “We don’t speak Spanish, we just speak food.” I feel you, brother. Aside from the occasional minor phrase, question or insult, I’m the same way.
It’s also become apparent that I know a bit more about Mexican cuisine than some employees of various local dining establishments of the Latino persuasion; properly-pronounced, too. I’m like the Asian street racers in the movie “Better Off Dead” who learned to speak English by watching Wide World of Sports, thus possessive of a Howard Cosell accent. Aaron Sanchez and The Food Network have me speaking fluent Chilaquiles, Barbacoa and Cochinita Pibil.
Occasionally I have to refer to Google’s translator. Thus was the case when I was attempting to decipher the name of Sierra Nevada’s newest release, Otra Vez. Spanish to English has it as “another time.” Reverse it and the English meaning is “again.” Both are correct with one being more of a casual, slang method of saying “good-bye;” their version of our “later” or “see ya.”
In the case of this new brew, I take it to mean “again,” as in, “Yes, I’d like another one of these tasty beers!” Being a flavorful session-strength beer, the shoe fits perfectly, so to speak. Have more than one and it won’t hurt you too badly.
What we have here is a German-style Gose. Traditionally, these are crisp, light-bodied members of the ale family of beer accented with salt and coriander. Gose usually sees a dosing of lactobacillus bacteria inoculation after the boil and prior to fermentation. All of these combine for a tart, sour, salty beverage that’s been known to be too much for Western palates.
Sierra Nevada accented that sourness with some grapefruit and then tempered it all out with the natural, almost indescribable sweetness of prickly pear cactus fruit. The end result is this pale straw-yellow beer that offers up a frothy, fluffy head that dissolves into a thin, omnipresent cap and leaves patchy lacing in the glass. There’s nothing subtle or complex here; the scents and flavors revel in their up-fronted-ness and deliver as advertised; tangy grapefruit dances around with watermelon and lime via the prickly pear before coming to rest with a bed of cereal malt and raw dough for balance. Aside from the direct selling points, Otra Vez’s additional charm lies in its body and low alcohol content. Acidity makes the drinker’s mouth water, abundant carbonation cleanses the palate and at only 4.5% AbV a person could enjoy a few.
“¡Gran trabajo, Sierra Nevada! Dame otra ‘Otra Vez,’ por favor!” See? Learning a new language can be fun and just as easy as enjoying a beer… Unless the preceding didn’t make sense, in which case blame Google’s translator.