Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A taste of beer history

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 12:41 PM

If you're the type of drinker who tends to ponder life's great questions while putting a few beers away — you know, stuff like "Why do men have nipples?" and all that — then perhaps you've asked this question before also: "What did early American beers taste like before Prohibition came along and ruined all the fun?"

Well, it's time to stop asking and start drinking.

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Coors has just released a pre-Prohibition style lager called Batch 19, which will only be available on draft in limited quantities in Colorado. All the rest is being shipped to Milwaukee, San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — that's it, just five cities.

In Colorado Springs, you'll be able to find the beer at Johnny's Navajo Hogan when it opens around mid June; get a taste at Palmer Lake's O'Malley's Steak Pub prior to that.

In Pueblo, look to Gray's Coors Tavern for a sample.

Head to the outfit's website or Facebook page for more on the history of this recipe. The short story is that is a 91-year-old brewing recipe local to Colorado was recently discovered in some brewery archives — apparently most pre-Prohibition recipes were lost or destroyed.

Thanks to a care package from the brewery and a pouring at the recent Summit Brewfest, I was able to sample the beer in two sittings.

It's advertised as having a "bold, hoppy flavor that is surprisingly well balanced," using a unique combination of German Hersbrucker and French Strisselspalt hops, from which drinkers should pick up both herbal and black currant notes. It's got a golden color and weighs in at a mild 5.5 percent ABV.

No surprise that I didn't pick up those subtle herb and currant notes at the Brewfest, with a blown palate from all the sampling. But even on my second sipping with a fresh palate, I couldn't really detect them that clearly, though the hop fusion does lend to a unique flavor that's easy to like.

The beer is crisp and light, but I wouldn't say bold or hoppy, really. Especially after downing BridgePort's Hop Czar Imperial IPA with dinner after trying Batch 19. Now that's bold and hoppy.

Batch 19 is no doubt enjoyable, but reach for it either for the novelty of the history or if you're more in the mood for a Pilsner-type lightness and flavor. At least that's what I picked up.

And while on the subject of beer, enjoy this infographic on the golden age of American beer — which happens to be right now.

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