Dogfish Head, Namaste

Dogfish Head, NamasteI’m not a girly-girl but I’ve never much cared for beer. I am German. I come from a long line of German drinkers. My last name is synonymous with beer. Every time I say I don’t like beer, I can feel generations of ancestors turning in their graves.

When The Man and I first started dating, he told me he was going to teach me how to love beer and spicy food. Not doing so good with spicy food, but he’s making headway with the beer. I am starting to appreciate beer the same way I appreciate wine and cigars. Unfortunately, he likes the super-hoppy IPAs which make my face want to turn inside out.

I don’t know what I like yet. I haven’t found it. But I’m searching. I used to shoe shop and go a little crazy when I found a pair of Steve Maddens in my size on clearance. Now I impulse-buy beer. What? Yes, I had my first pointless beer splurge the other day. It’s hard not to when you’re standing at the Great Beer Wall in Ward’s. “I would look GREAT holding that bottle!”

Not quite that silly, but since I don’t know what I like, I am willing to take a few wild shots in the dark. Hence the bottle of Dogfish Head Namaste Ale that chilled in the fridge for three days, staring at me, while I decided if I was going to try it. It’s ale, brewed with orange, lemongrass, and coriander. Unusual.

The Man decided on scotch one night, but I wasn’t up for that, so I opened the Namaste. It was a pretty little drink, reminding me more of a good cider than a beer. The bouquet of flavors are balanced and work in harmony. The orange and lemongrass add fresh notes, while the coriander mellows it with a soft earthy tone. It creates a variety of delicate, false flavors that flirt with the tongue without revealing themselves. Hints of lavender, caramel, cardamom, and pear surface barely long enough to wink playfully before disappearing.

“Namaste” is one of those multi-use terms, like ‘aloha’ or ‘dude’. The simple meaning is “the spark of god in me honors the spark of god in you.” Or some such hippie variations. With that same spirit, I am approaching beer. Starting slow with a mild, frilly beer like this Dogfish Head variation. Namaste.

Dogfish Head
750 mL bottle | $7-9

320 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

#6 Cannery Village Center
Milton, DE 19968


Southern Tier, Farmer’s Tan

Southern Tier Farmer's TanSouthern Tier is a classic made-for-TV story of small business success. At the turn of the millennium, there seemed to be a hundred new microbreweries popping up every day. And like garage bands in suburbia, many were just something for guys to say they did in order to get pretty girls to talk to them. A few–rare few–made it to the big time, and Southern Tier was one of those.

We were in Upstate New York visiting family last summer, and the thing you may have noticed about people from Upstate New York is that they are fiercely proud of where they’re from. (And the accents.) (Oh, and the attitudes.) So of course we were constantly being offered wine, beer and food made locally. Including Southern Tier beer. Most drinkable and accessible were Phin & Matt’s, IPA, and Harvest; but they have a significant roster of every-day and seasonal options.

Fast forward to this summer, back in Florida of course, and it’s 98 degrees at 11:00 PM, with humidity at approximately 300%. We wander down to our favorite pub to take refuge in the air conditioning. The Man is delirious from the heat and forgoes his usual Guinness in favor of a Southern Tier beer. Perhaps dreaming of the cooler New York weather. Farmer’s Tan. On draft. Yum.

Farmer’s Tan is a summer seasonal pale lager, classically light colored, with the distinct malty and grassy flavors of barley and wheat. The mouth feel is somewhat thick, but very cool and crisp overall. It finishes with clean, bitter hops. This summer/German style lager is sweet but balanced nicely with undertones of hops and a non-sweet finish. Hmmm, so if you used to drink Heineken before you became a beer geek, then you’ll indubitably like Farmer’s Tan.

Although pale lager is hands-down the most popular style of beer world-wide, it’s often sneered at by beer aficionados. Mostly because many of the epic, lowest-rated beers are pale lager. It’s about statistics really, but we’ll leave that to the math nerds to explain. Pale lager was invented fairly recently by a German who took the concepts of pale ale brewing (warm fermentation of pale malts) back to Germany and grafted them into the traditional lager style of brewing (cool fermentation).

Lagers and ales traditionally tend to be low ABV, usually 4.5% to 5.5%, but with these new fangled microbreweries pushing their creative limits with flavors, they’re also increasing sugar content, which increases alcohol content. Although Farmer’s Tan is at 8.6% ABV, you can find some specialty brews up to the 9.9% or higher mark. If you’ve ever had to drink alcohol while sweating out in the hot sun, you’ll know why a lower ABV on a mild beer is so attractive.

I’m not going to bore you with a lot of details about beer, bottom-fermenting yeast, ale, hops, nanobreweries, continuous fermentation, malt liquor, ale wives, or saccharomyces pastorianus. Books, huge volumes of books, have been written about making beer, the history of beer, our love of beer, and why beer makes the world a better place. In this heat of August in Florida, I just want a cold drink on a muggy summer night, and a good seat on the patio to people watch. I urge you to do the same.

If you happen to wander downtown Gainesville and swing past Loosey’s, we’ll probably be out on the patio with a cold drink. I suggest you stop in and try a Southern Tier beer. Or peruse their selection of domestic microbrews for something else that tickles your fancy.

Southern Tier
Farmer’s Tan [summer seasonal]
Draft at Loosey’s


Spotted Cow Ale

Spotted Cow AleFriends of friends are from Wisconsin, and whenever they visit home, they make every effort to bring back as much of this beer as possible because the New Glarus Brewing Co. does not export outside of the state. That shows dedication. Dedication in these friends that love the beer, and dedication in the brewing company for not selling out and going commercial.

We were just gifted with two bottles of this Spotted Cow Ale from the latest long-distance beer run, and on our first weekend off, with the game on TV, The Man popped open the first one. Spotted Cow is unfiltered and often has sediment at the bottom after making its long way to Florida. This is brewers yeast, and the brewers recommend rolling it gently to mix in the sediment. It’s rich in vitamins and flavors. Healthy beer? Why not?

Chilled, this is a surprisingly light yet yeasty farmhouse-style beer, with bright citrus notes and a sweet finish. It’s clear and bright amber but slightly cloudy. The mouth feel is incredible, almost syrupy and a little crystalline like raw honey. And there are these hints of floral back notes that evolve as you get deeper into the glass.

New Glarus touts its use of indigenous ingredients, so they exclusively use locally grown barley and wheat malt. And this particular brew incorporates some local corn, since that’s one thing Wisconsin has a lot of. Of note, this is also cask conditioned ale, also known as ‘real ale’ by aficionados.

The Man loves hoppy beer like traditional Belgian brews (some of these take my breath away), but he was appropriately amused by this unusual ale. Being mild and citrusy, and only about 4.8% abv, this would be an excellent summer barbecue and pool party beer (if you could get your hands on a quantity).

So this is another reason to like Wisconsin–besides all of the cheese, of course. New Glarus doesn’t have to export their product and are shameless about not wanting to. They may keep their mom-and-pop, old fashioned, small brewery attitude towards ingredients and processes, but they’re modern about technology. Find them on their website, or on Facebook and other social networking sites. And if you’re lucky enough to visit the brewery, take some pictures for us, and bring back some beer!

New Glarus Brewing Company
2400 State Hwy 69
New Glarus, WI 53574
(608) 527-5850