Monday, 9 August 2010

Manifest destiny

Doug Odell stands up and talks. Rangy, weather-bitten face, small goatee — I imagine him as a driven pioneer forever pushing west in the 19th century. Manifest destiny. Pioneer: the right word. ‘Thirty years ago we were producing some of the most boring beers on the planet. Now…’ There’s no need to finish the sentence. I believe that the US is currently the most exciting place on the earth for beer at the moment (hell, beer is exciting across the whole world at the moment but I’m particularly fixated on the American guys). And that’s not just down to the buckets of hops that are being shovelled into brewing kettles right across the continent (I must admit I have reached a high water mark on IBU madness). On my recent trip to Vermont I discovered that these guys are getting lagers right; while saisons are undergoing the US treatment and walking right into my glass, some as sweet as Silly, others right on the nail like Dupont’s. Over the weekend I was enjoying He Said Beer…She Said Wine and Brewing With Wheat. Cask beer is also coming on, though to my mind the ones I tried had an unfinished, unrefined rawness that I didn’t particularly take to. But it’ll come. And as my liver shrinks back to its normal size after last week’s beer extravaganzas (the beerwriters soiree, my GBBF lager spree, and visits to the Rake, Brew Wharf, the Gunmakers and the White Horse) it’s last Wednesday’s American Craft Beer Dinner at the White Horse that still resonates. Victory Storm King huffing and puffing and cutting the cream on the cheese board; Odell Saboteur Brown Ale eyeing its chances with the Rack of Lamb and Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweiss going all soft and cooing as the honey mustard sausages and cured salmon crostinis were handed round. Beer had a deserved seat at the table here: crisp white tablecloths, glasses that shone and sparkled, bright with anticipation, as they waited for the beer to lap and foam at the rim; those in attendance ears cocked as Doug Odell and others spoke about the greatness on parade. A formidable evening. And last night as Sherlock Holmes reached its denouement, I was whisked back to that evening as I took the tab off a can of GUBNA Imperial IPA from Oskar Blues — a remarkably balanced beer, pungent and punchy, sun-ripened peach skin, a firm cracker undertow and a long resiny finish that reminded long after I had finished the can. Saluté.


  1. The new Holmes, Odell, and a host of US Beer memories....sounds good. Very good.

  2. It can certainly get bewildering over here when it comes to beer, especially if you have a tendency to freeze like a rabbit caught in headlights when confronted with so much choice.

    One thing though that I would love to see would be more of an appreciation of hops other than Cascade, Amarillo, Centennial and the rest of the heavy citrus brigade.

  3. There are some great American beers out there but 'Manifest destiny' leaves a bad taste in the mouth.