Late Spring/Early Summer Smorgasbeers

The end of the school year is always a busy time, and this year June was busier than usual due to a combination of work obligations and family choices, with the result that I spent three out of the four weeks of June away from home.  That meant not much time for blogging and beers from a wide range of locales and in a variety of styles, so this post will be mostly a quick rundown rather than a thoughtful essay.

At home, I worked on the Sam Adams “Adventures in Lager” mix pack for most of the month of May. A nice change from the ubiquitous IPA, all of these beers were relatively light and fizzy, though they ranged in color from very pale yellow (the Noble Pils) to a quite dark brown (the Double Bock and Double Black).  lageradventuresThe label art struck me as an illustrational style influenced perhaps by DC Comics, each beer paired with a semi-heroic figure that somebody thought represented the personality of the beer.  (Rather than inflict my poor-quality photographs on you readers, I snagged the one at right from somebody else’s beer web site–hooray for the Internet and fair use!)

There were a couple of unusual IPAs in the current seasonal mix from Sierra Nevada: an “experimental” Five Hop IPA (no details on the web site) and the Hop Hunter IPA that was brewed with distilled hop oil.  These were complemented by the familiar Torpedo IPA and Ruthless Rye, both of which are favorites at chez Dr. Dave.

IMG_0807The AP Chemistry reading was again held in Salt Lake City during the first week of June, which provides an opportunity for sampling beers unavailable here on the East Coast.  “Dine out night” found several of us at a New Orleans themed restaurant (in Utah—go figure!) called the Bayou that featured an immense beer list.  IMG_0808I had already been drinking a variety of draft beers from Utah-based Epic and Uinta breweries in the bar at our hotel, but I was tempted by a couple of bottled beers on this particular night: the appetizers were accompanied by Ninkasi Total Domination IPA and my dinner companion was the Epic Brewing Hop Syndrome lager.  (In case it’s not obvious, both the bottle and the glass are definitely on the large side for the latter.)

After a week at home, the whole family piled into the car for this year’s vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine.  We enjoyed a week of hiking, biking, a tour of the Jackson Biological Lab (biologists might recognize the name as the source of mice bred for biology research), and relaxing evenings for board and card games in our rental house.  Beers in the fridge for late afternoon and evening were the Green Blaze IPA from Long Trail and the Latitude 48 IPA from Sam Adams—neither one particularly adventurous, but both worthy choices.  IMG_0812On a night out at our favorite local restaurant, I tried an unusual white stout that went by the name Albino and brewed, I believe, by Liquid Riot brewing and distilling from Portland, ME.  (Yes, the beer in the picture at left is supposed to be a stout!) I couldn’t find much in terms of how to make a white stout, but the flavor profile gave lots of vanilla and the web site does indicate that oats and cocoa are also part of the mix.

Upon returning from our vacation, I had to quickly do my laundry and re-pack for another week of professional development.  This trip was necessitated by a combination of retirements, new hires, and other personnel juggling at work that has me picking up the calculus-based AP Physics C class next year and in need of a refresher on some more advanced aspects of physics than I have been teaching for the last couple of decades.  Fortunately, the Taft School in Watertown, CT, runs a summer institute that includes teacher instruction for almost the entire gamut of AP courses, so I could sign up for a week of physics fun and games (no, that’s not an oxymoron!) and also enjoy some social time with teachers in the other subjects, including a couple of AP Chemistry readers and the new colleague to whom I will be passing the torch for AP Chem.

At the daily social hour, the beer selection was a bit limited, so I found myself mostly alternating between Heineken and Corona. (The social hour was actually a pleasant surprise, as it meant I didn’t have to break into the cooler of emergency beer that I had brought just in case, so I’m saving that one for the next post.)   I’m old enough to remember when Heineken was considered exotic and Corona was unheard of, and though I hadn’t tried either one for several years I can report that they are both still better than a typical inexpensive American beer.  On the one night when both of those were in short supply, I went with an adequate Amstel Light (same brewery as Heineken and maybe my first light beer in years, if not decades), and the organizers apparently splurged and offered Sam Adams (the best of the lot) on the final evening.

So now with June over, I’m thankfully home for most of the rest of the summer, though there will be a weekend trip to Ithaca, NY, coming up in the not-too-distant future and hopefully a few summer parties, ball games, or other excuses to enjoy a cold brew.  Happy start of summer, everyone—cheers!