Beer Camp Part 2

IMG_0381With the start of school, I’ve gotten behind on my blogging.  Maybe it’s other things as well–running out of ideas, finding it increasingly difficult to say something unique about every beer, too much time elapsed between tasting and writing so the memories are fuzzy.  Anyway, this will be a short post, with a lengthier one to follow on some beers for which the memories are fresher (and for whichI took better notes).

There was one can in this half of the mix pack, a Tropical Maibock in collaboration with Cigar City Brewing from Tampa, FL.  It did have the relatively high ABV of a bock (7.7%), but although it was supposed to have a lot of tropical flavors from the hops, my overpowering impression was of an unexpectedly yeasty brew.

The Torpedo Pilsner with Firestone Walker came as advertised with plenty of hops on top of an otherwise light-bodied beer.  I found myself wondering if this isn’t the same as (or at least very similar to) the Firestone Walker Pivo that I tried a couple of months ago, since they are both described as a “hoppy pils,” but since this is supposed to be a unique project, I’m going to count it as a distinct beer.

The collaboration with the Asheville (NC) Brewer’s Alliance sounded like it would be interesting–Tater Ridge is described a Scottish ale brewed with sweet potatoes, but although it was flavorful and not too fizzy, the sweet potato flavor wasn’t particularly obvious.  (Pumpkin beers are on the horizon, so I will continue to watch for the influences of carotenoid vegetables over the next month or two.)

I don’t have either notes or particular impressions about either the Alt Route alt bier that was made in collaboration with Victory Brewing or the English-style bitter (There and Back Again) with New Glarus (WI).  My only previous alt bier association is that I helped brew one with a friend of mine when we were both working in a lab at MIT to take with us for a visit with our Ph.D. advisor at his summer house on Cape Cod.  And although it doesn’t say so on the bottle, I can’t help but think that There and Back Again is an homage to the fictionalized English countryside of the Shire in the writings of J.R.R. Tolkein. (Remember that the hobbits also enjoyed their beer!)

The real winner in this group was the collaboration with Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI), an imperial dark ale that was named Maillard’s Odysssey.  IMG_0380This was a delightful beer with a thick creamy head and a rich body, and it’s also fun because the name provides a chemistry connection.  The Maillard reaction is a reaction between amino acids and sugars that results in the browning of all sorts of foods: meat, bread, and in this case the dark malts that were the backbone of a really enjoyable beer. (Dr. Mrs. Dr. Dave, the food chemist in the  family, has promised to do some further research for me, though she tells me that the reaction is incompletely understood, even though it was identified more than 100 years ago.)

All in all, the Beer Camp sampler met my expectations and gave me a couple of new breweries to be on the lookout for, in addition to pushing the tally up to 119.  So now the empty bottles can go in the recycling and I can move on to the next sampler.  Cheers!

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