If I wanted water, I would have asked for water.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Alaskan Summer Ale

Much as you will not find American made “Belgian Ale,” you will only find Kölsch-style ales; the city of Cologne made sure of this by enshrining Kölsch’s status in the German legal code in 1985 (one of the definitions was a strict limitation about where the beer is brewed). The style is one of the few German ales, but the flavor palate, like altbiers, is drier and less fruity than other ales. For an obscure style, Kölsches are more popular in the NW than you'd imagine. Widmer has experimented with the style, and the McMenamins' regular summer ale is a Kölsch. In fact, there seem to be more examples of Oregon-brewed Kölsches than pilsners--perhaps the only place outside Cologne where that's true.

(Perhaps it's more than coincidence that no less than Michael Jackson has made a comparison between Portland and Cologne. From an interview I did with him in 1998:
I was asked on radio this morning, 'How important is Portland in all of this, and is Portland the beer capital of the United States?' To which my answer always is that it's a private squabble between Portland and Seattle, really, and nobody else comes close. Portland has, within its zip codes, between a dozen and 20 breweries, which is actually slightly more than Cologne has--and it's the most breweried city in Germany. So, you could make an argument for Portland being the beer capital of the world. I'd like to see more evidence of this when the city promotes itself. When I come into the airport, I'd like to see a sign that says, 'Welcome to the Beer Capital.'")
Tasting notes
Alaskan Summer Ale is a rather rich hue of gold--substantially darker than the pilsners to which Kölsh is often compared. The head dissipated quickly, but the beer roiled with a vigorous fine bead. I don’t doubt that there’s an aroma to Summer Ale, but next to none from the bottle I poured (maybe the slightest note of yeasty tartness).

Kölsches, despite the paucity of ingredients, can pack a complex punch--the good ones, anyway. Alaskan's is a nice example. The first note is subtly sweet and tart, but it finishes with a dry note. Alaskan underhops their version, but it's not a mistake; the more subdued flavors come to the fore. The brewery uses its regular yeast, which is a drier version more akin to the yeasts of Germany (and atypical for West-coast beers)--a great fit for Summer Ale. All in all, a beer fit for Cologne.

On a hot summer day, you might have a bottle or two and not regret it. A cooler summer eve? Even better.

Stats
Hops: Hallertauer
Malts: Pale, Munich, Vienna and wheat
Alcohol By Volume: 5.3%
Original Gravity: 1.048 OG
BUs: 18

Rating
Excellent.

[Note: posting has been edited slightly to remove gross errors of grammar and syntax.]

2 comments:

iggi said...

nice post...you really should hyperlink Michael Jackson's name, if possible. though beer geeks know who he is, that name is shared by another celebrity with less taste for beer and more for "Jesus-juice".

Jeff Alworth said...

I find that hard to believe, but okay. Done.

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