Thursday, December 03, 2009

Island Beer

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island for a few years, and could only have one brand and type of beer, what would it be?

Believe it or not, that is the kind of thought that crosses my mid-western, non-nautical mind. I've never been near a desert island, but I watched a lot of Gilligan's Island growing up, so maybe that's what generates the question. (Although it appears that marijuana may have been the intoxicant of choice, at least for Mary Ann and Gilligan.)

The question is really a more engaging version of what's your favorite everyday beer? Many of the beers that really astound my taste buds are not beers I would necessarily want to drink on a regular basis. Three Philosophers, for example, is a wonderful, complex, rich beer, but it's a bit of a mouthful for regular drinking.

For my regular beer, I want moderate alcohol level, a refreshing but interesting flavor, and and a medium body. Personally, I enjoy a hop zing, but not so much that the bitterness is overwhelming.

Most of the world has chosen varieties of Pilsner. Budweiser is an adaptation of the style that originated in Czechoslovakia, as is Heineken, Tsing Tao and almost every other top-selling beer in the world. Some variation on the style would certainly be a good choice - I love a good Warsteiner now and then, and could picture it as the beverage of choice if I were Cast Away with a volleyball.

But, for me, pilsners lack the complexity of a great ale. The top-fermenting yeasts put out a few more esters, and the result is a beer that I think has greater depth and richness, without necessarily overloading the beer.

For me, the style I would want at my desert island hide-away would be an American Pale Ale. Medium body, solid hopping levels, spritely carbonation, and a good malt background would be just the thing.

As for brand, it comes down to three top choices. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the classic example of the style, and it is one of the best beers in the world. This summer I discovered Deschutes Mirror Pond, and was blown away by perfection. But, for me, if I find myself on a desert island, with one never-ending tap available, I'm going to opt for none other than Boulevard Pale Ale, which always manages to taste "just right". It's balanced slightly sweeter than the other two, and its hope profile blends bitterness, flavor and aroma.

The thought of being restricted to one beer only is a bit disheartening, but I could sit on the beach and feel connected to Kansas City with a Boulevard Pale Ale in my hand. Now for the other obvious question - Ginger or Mary Ann?



Blogger Dave said...

I happened across some others, which I'd nominate:

* Maharaja Imperial IPA, by Avery brewery.
* Double-wide IPA, by Boulevard.
* Pliney the Elder, by Russian River.

12/03/2009 10:06 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


12/07/2009 12:18 PM  

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