Thursday, 16 April 2009

Beer and Baseball and Some IPAs

The baseball season has started! I am a huge baseball fan and spend a ridiculous amount of time fretting over my fantasy baseball team (I play here). For the last few years I watched it on Channel 5 and the coverage was brilliant, well worth staying up until the sun starts to rise just to tune in (stupid time difference!). This year Channel 5 haven’t picked up the baseball, which sucks, so instead I bought the mlb.tv package. This means I have access to every live game, and that’s way over 2,000 throughout the season. Here’s to a summer of broken sleep!

But what do you do when you watch baseball? You drink beer of course (some of the first posts I wrote for this blog were about beer and baseball and the stuff I drank during the 2008 World Series, check them out here). For opening day this year I decided to pop the cap on something that’s been in the cupboard for too long, something that I’ve been desperate to try: AleSmith’s IPA. It’s 7.25% and pours a wicked sunset flame colour with a thick yellow foaming head. Straight away it’s tangerines, oranges, grapefruit and a little sappy pine in the nose, hidden beneath that hop-whack I got pineapple and even creamy white chocolate. It’s such a clean and fresh tasting beer, really juicy and gluggable, lots of toasty caramel malt and then a piney and bitter tang to finish, with peaches and a floral note. This beer is stunning and it’d be even better if you drank it super fresh. I want more! I got mine from beermerchants but they don’t have any left – Phil, please get more! And it was perfect for the baseball (plus it was a warm day and I’d just come back from a run so it went down like a dream).

While we’re here, I’ve had a couple of other IPAs recently which are worth writing about...

Port Brewing Hop 15 is a 10% monster of an IPA. It’s a golden amber colour and has a citrusy, piney, juicy nose – a dreamy IPA aroma. The body is thick and luscious and it carries the 10% well and brings a wave of fruits – tangerine, roast apples and grapefruit – followed by a long, dry and bitter finish. There’s a lot of sweetness in this beer but it needs it to balance the hop attack. I really loved this beer and it’s another which I bought from beermerchants and it's still in stock.

Great Divide’s Hercules Double IPA is a 9.1% face-melter. It’s 85 IBUs of pine beneath its electric orange colour. The malt is toasty with just enough sweetness, but it’s the bitterness that owns this thing as it digs into the sides of your mouth, clawing its way down your throat. Beneath the pine (with its mint, white chocolate and herbal qualities) I’m sure I detected some distant orange groves but they were sadly too distant. It was all a bit overpowering for me and the balance just wasn’t quite right. Maybe I had an old bottle because I remember enjoying it a lot more the last time I had it.

Another pine attack came from Mikkeller’s Simcoe Single Hop IPA (6.9%). It’s a fiery orange with a densely resinous aroma milling around with citrus zest and leather. The nose is almost eye watering and the bitterness on the palate is much greater than I expected - it’s like licking a pine cone (dry, woody, astringent, piney). There was some toffee sweetness but not enough for me. Kinda nuts, kinda cool.

And right now I’ve got a Cascade Single Hop IPA from Mikkeller and it’s got that same flaming colour and a big billowing head as the Simcoe (which makes sense as it’s the same base IPA). The nose is citrus, pithy lemon, a slight sourness and a touch of pine (I taste pine in everything nowadays). The first thing in the mouth is the bitterness and it’s huge. But it gets softer. It gets really drinkable. There isn’t much malt sweetness, just some toasty bread but that doesn’t matter, it’s all about the Cascade greatness. And now I get it. It isn’t a juicy hop and it isn’t that fruity; it’s dry and pithy, imagine the aftertaste of a grapefruit and you’re there. The bitterness is all at the end and it doesn’t go away, it’s gooood, it’s assertive and up-in-your-face. I finished it quickly and I wanted another one right away. I like these single hop jobs, I need to try some more.

Expect quite a few beer and baseball posts to come from now until October. I’ll be doing my best to get as much new US stuff as possible as the season goes on, especially as my thirst for IPAs continues to be insatiable.

Let’s go Mets!

5 comments:

  1. Liam, interesting post on several fronts. Firstly, stop supporting the Mets! Why do you support the Mets?? Because New York is only 5 hours from England? You're bringing back childhood range of Dodger/New York rivalries. I can't stand the Mets or Yankees, and either should you! Secondly, it's funny that you should mention AleSmith IPA and Pizza Port Hop 15. Those are two of the beers I brought over on my last trip to England. The third was AleSmith ESB. I really like AleSmith IPA, it's very drinkable. It is also killer in the Proper Real Keg format, which is available in many San Diego bars. See if you can get hold of the ESB. It's killer, and shows the skill AleSmith have. It's not a hop bomb at all, but beautifully balanced.

    Now a question for you. Can you get hot dogs and hot dog buns in England?? Surely they must be available? A hot dog and a pint is a wonderful thing, especially during a ballgame. Peanuts in the shell are a close second.

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  2. Right, I follow the Mets because that's the team I enjoyed watching the most when I got into baseball. It was nearly the Tigers but they got crap. Plus it's more realistic that I'll get to NY to see a game than other places and I like a few of the players, Reyes, Santana, Wright, etc.

    To be honest, I follow players more than I do a team. I like the Mets but if my fantasy team's pitcher is up against them then I want him to blow them away. I have no real alliances in baseball yet, I just love watching it and love playing fantasy. (I'm watching the Top of the 9th Giants Dodgers right now!)

    As for the beer, some Proper Real Keg of AleSmith IPA would rock and the ESB sounds great. But AleSmith isn't over here anymore and it was only the IPA at beermerchants. I will keep on looking though, and hoping.

    And hot dog, of course we have them! I had a few last year when I was up watching the World Series at stupid o'clock. You can't beat beer, baseball and hot dogs!

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  3. Tesco in Faversham have had Punk IPA for 99p a bottle all week so I have stocked up! I like IPA.

    I know very little about baseball, we used to play rounders as an excuse to show off to the girls at school and I always enjoyed that!

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  4. Mate, if you can get Punk for 99p a bottle then stock up and fill your fridge!!!

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  5. Your post is making me crave a veggie corn dog! Darn you, Mark!

    I think your baseball & beer posts are going to make me a bit homesick.

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