Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ringing Out the Old and Ringing In the New

I don't really go in for those end of the year "best of" lists—at least not this year—but, don't hold me to that in the last week of December 2012, when I haven't got anything to write about. What I will go in for is, writing about something new for the new year—and it's new in two ways, too. One, it's a new beer from a new brewery, and two, it's a kind of beer I've never had before. So, two "news" for the price of one (actually it was free). I have, however written about it before—way back in October.

At long last, I finally got my hands on Steadfast Beer Company's Sorghum Pale Ale. I've actually been sitting on it for a few weeks, and like I said what better time for a new beer than going into the new year. The 22 ounce bomber has been patiently chilling in my fridge since the middle of the month, just waiting for the perfect time, and it turned out yesterday afternoon was that perfect time. Monday was the optimal convergence of circumstances—subdued kids, a day off and the right mind set—to try an untested brew. All systems go, in other word, so out of the fridge the bottle came, and I set out to try my first sorghum beer.

It pours a bright clear, copper—looking almost like a cider—topped with a nice layer of foamy white head. It has a phenomenal aroma—sweet and estery, with a floral note and a bready tone, too. Weaving throughout all of this is that classic American "C" hop smell—slightly piney with a good snootful of citrus, that can only come from Centennial, Columbus, Cascade and Chinook hops. I don't I have the actual breakdown for Steadfast's Pale Ale, but just by my nose, I know a couple of them are in there.

The flavor is spicy—similar to the flavor that rye brings to the party—with more of that citrus quality from the aroma. It's almost tangerine-like, melded with a Granny Smith apple tartness. There's some sweetness, but not a malty sweetness—more molasses-like—and it's very dry with just a hint of an Earl Grey tea, herbal astringency. The hops are there, as well, bringing that piney, resinous and tropical note, that's really needed for any "American" style.  There's also a noticeable fusel quality about it on the back-end. It's not so much a warming alcoholic flavor, but a sharpness, an almost stinging aspect—that's not wholly unpleasant. Fusel alcohols are higher-order alcohols produced during fermentation, and are responsible for the "heat" in some stronger beer and distilled spirits. This one is fairly strong, too at 6.8%—You all know my dislike of BCJP-ish "styles," but I do have to say, this is more of a double IPA than a humble, little American-Pale Ale—but, hey, more bang for the buck, right?

I'm going to be honest, this beer is not going to be for everyone. It's not bad by any means, but it does combine a number of very strong flavors. It's intense, to say the least. It has that great American hop characteristic, but from start to finish this beer hits you hard with its pronounced bitterness. That bitterness is accentuated, one, by its mild astringency, and two, from its fusel alcohol flavor. However, knowing that going in, you might be pleasantly surprised by this beer. Steadfast has made a commitment to shake up the gluten-free beer market. They went into this project looking to offer a craft beer alternative to what's already out there—a strong, hoppy alternative. Ya' know what? I think they've done it.

If you're in New York or the Northeast, keep your eye out—over the next month or two—for Steadfast at your local pub, bar or bev center. You might as well ring in a new beer and brewery while you're ringing in 2012!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your assertion of this beer. It's definitely the most regular-tasting and certainly the hoppiest sorghum beer I've ever had. That being said it still does indeed taste like a gluten-free beer. I feel bad because I didn't love this beer, but I didn't give it a thumbs down, either. But I'm sure Jeremy understands that we're probably not the target audience for this brew.