05 March 2008

The quiet Americans

The gradual increase in the number of American beers available in Ireland (real American, not Kilkenny-made Bud or Cork-made Miller), as mentioned here and here, continues steadily. Two more for your consideration from the eastern and western USA.

When I first saw Sierra Nevada Wheat I asked Why? Who in their right minds would go for a small bottle of American wheat beer when there's half a litre of Schneider-Weisse on the shelf next to it, probably for less money. Well, "me", is the short answer to that one. I decided to give the guys from Chico a chance. I was made wary from the get-go by the very pale yellow colour. The carbonation is medium -- less head than you'd expect from a German weiss but more than a Belgian wit -- typical for an American ale, funnily enough. The model is definitely a northern European one and the dominant flavour is dry, almost like the characteristic French wheatbeer style, though not as astringent. This dryness is softened by citrus and slight perfumey notes. It would be a poor imitation of the European norm if it wasn't for a mild dose of hoppiness in the aftertaste which adds a small bit of individuality, but really it's too little too late. All these understated flavours and a light body make for something very undemanding and easy to drink. As your friendly neighbourhood wheatbeer, I'm sure Sierra Nevada functions adequately; as an exotic number from half-way across the world, however, it's not really worth it.

A little closer to home, there's Harpoon IPA from Boston. This dark gold ale is one of the sweeter sort of American IPAs and reminds me a lot of Snake Dog. There's a heady floral aroma and hints of caramel and summer fruits, gradually tightening to a mild bitterness at the end. It has a superb oiliness giving substance to the body, which is just how I like my IPAs to be textured. Like the Sierra Nevada Wheat, this is an unchallenging entry-level sort of beer, though I don't think that detracts from its tastiness at all. Quiet, but fun.

And no sooner had I guzzled these than I spotted more Americans, from Boston Brewing's Samuel Adams range. Unfortunately, Redmond's have arrogated themselves to selling these by the six-pack only. I'm sure they're lovely, but I'm not shelling out €13-€14 for over two litres of each. Not if I can help it. I'll check to see if any of my other usual sources can meet my modest requirements.

And while I'm talking about fun things from the States, you may notice I've added a widget from Beermapping.com to my side panel. It shows the latest place I've reviewed on their marvellous resource. Go, play, enjoy, and add some more content to Germany -- it's looking very sparse at the moment.