Earlier this week, I asked you to vote in a poll about which beer BridgePort should make for its "Big Brews" line this Spring. Karl Ockert and Co. were interested to see what you all thought. From an initial list of ten styles, we have winnowed it down to three: Big NW Red (20% in initial polling), Old Ale (17%), and Strong Rye (14%). For the majority of the period the poll was open, old ales were out in front. A late push gave big reds the edge in the end. But can they hold the edge in a narrowed field? The answer lies with you. I'll include a description of the styles below the poll.
Big NW Red. This is a style that just started appearing--Laurelwood, Roots, Ninkasi, and Widmer have all brewed versions of the style. Those versions all had certain qualities in common beyond the reddish color. Similar to IPAs, but the malt base is a bit sweeter, almost candyish, and not nearly as full bodied. These are beers designed to showcase hops: the malt is there to look pretty, but not much else. They are generally sharply bitter, but many are also dry-hopped or strongly aromatic.
Old Ale. Rich dark amber in color to a very dark brown; near black. Tamed aromatics. Although bittering levels can greatly vary, expect common fruity, vinous, intense malts and sharp alcohol characteristics. The often racy but mellow attitude of the beer may also include acidic notes, raisins and black currants. Vintage varieties may have a low level of oxidation. Stronger versions may have similarities to a port wine. Brewers may also inoculate a portion of the batch with Brettanomyces lambicus and age for an extended period of time to achieve an old-school acidic character. (BeerAdvocate)
Strong Rye. Rye isn't a style (except for roggenbier), it's a grain. As an ingredient, rye contributes a spicy, tannic, sometimes earthy tone. If it occupies too much of the grain bill, you end up with a harsh, unpleasant beer. Hit the mark, though, and it adds wonderful, unique character. Brewers have discovered that rye goes well with hops, so a strong rye beer would probably feature a fair amount of our beloved humulus lupulus. But that would be up to BridgePort.
I'll leave this poll open a couple days and then send off the results to BridgePort on Friday afternoon. Please vote!