Thursday, January 19, 2006

Draught v.s. The Bottle

First off, why is draught pronounced draft? Why isn't it draught as in drawtt? My 7 yr. old niece and I were having a typical uncle / niece discussion, when she decided to read the label on my Guinness bottle. She said, "Uncle J, what does drawtt mean?" My mother immediately chimed in, "It is pronounced draft." My reply back to my mother was something typical from my usual know-it-all self, "I have lived in Europe, it is pronounced as it is looks, drawtt!" Mom said, "Look it up." Damn it. I hate when I am wrong.

Websters Dictionary says: Draught /draft/ British version of draft. Concerning beer. To draw up.

Now that we have the pronounciation down pat, does anyone have trouble with the word bottle? Ok, me neither, which brings me to the point of this discussion. Draught beer or bottled beer, what is better? On the surface, this question is very simplistic. The draft version of a beer just seems better. The art of the pour, the look, the atmosphere, the hot looking bartender pouring the beer. How can you top that? But what about the lowly bottle? Some beers are conditioned in the bottle, they age there, they grow there. They develop a distinct taste there. Think about a fine Belgium Ale. Most people make a big deal about a fresh pint of Guinness poured out of the tap, but it is actually pretty difficult to taste the difference between the fresh pint and the Draught Bottle, unless you are in Ireland or a very busy USA Irish pub.

Pop the top off of a bottle or fill up a mug from the faucet? I really think it depends on what type of beer you want to enjoy. Higher alcohol beers that age well, definitely fare better in the bottle. Ales come out of the tap just a tad tastier and smoother than their bottled counter parts. Lagers and pilsners taste great on draft, but are just as refreshing when poured out of a bottle. American Light beer needs to be served very cold and drunk from the actual bottle to keep you from realizing that it really doesn't taste like anything.

When I have a choice, I choose draft beer. Probably not so much for the taste, my reasons are the superficial reasons stated above. I like the art of the pour. I like the anticipation of waiting for my beer. I like the atmosphere of having a pint in a real pub. Draft beer is how beer was meant to be served. There weren't to many bottles in the pubs in 16th century Europe, were there? And lastly, there is also nothing wrong with a hot bartender either.

The King of Kegerators, The Sudsbuddy. The Sudsbuddy Beirmeister is the way to go if you want kegged, draft beer in your home. Made out of a durable plastic and round in shape, the Sudsbuddy when empty only weighs about 40lbs. Cooled by a thermoelectric motor, the Sudsbuddy is extremely quiet and energy efficient. One of the biggest virtues of the Sudsbuddy is that it is portable and you can take it outside. In the summer, it can sit on your porch or poolside. It even has a car adaptor, so you can take it camping or to a tailgate party. Sudsbuddy comes in a variety of colors, so it will fit into your recreation room's decor. Or do what I did ( I have two of them), put them under a bar or counter top. The Sudsbuddy can hold one 1/2 barrel of beer. If you home brew, it can hold two 5 gallon kegs. If you like microbrewed beer, most come in 1/6 kegs. The Sudsbuddy can squeeze two of them in there also. Think multi-tap towers. You can even get it set-up for Guinness and other nitro beers (Mine is). I love my Sudsbuddy. Go to and check them out for yourself.

The Beers

DogFish Head, World Wide Stout: At $8.29 for a 12 oz bottle, this beer better be good. Forget about it. This beer is incredible. More Barleywineish than stoutish, this 15% alcohol beer had a sweet smell and poured very thick and dark. No head, no visible sign of carbonation. The first mouthfull gave off a slight raisan taste which followed through with chocolate overtones. My wife even found the chocolate in this one. The finish was very warming. This beer was fabulous. It is $8.00 well spent.

Harvieston Brewery, Old Engine Oil: Like the name implies, this Scottish beer was thick and dark, just like a stout. Chocolate smell and taste. 6% alcohol gave this beer some legs. A very good beer, terrific as an after dinner beer or a cigar beer.

Reaper Ale, Deathly Pale Ale: The strong hop smell of this beer told me it was not going to be like a typical pale ale, and I was right. This beer was more IPA than PA. A strong amount of bitterness which mellowed the more you drank. Rusty in color with a sparkling white head, This beer was a tasty treat.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Moderately Drunk?

I have always been told that beer by itself is not a very good drink for getting drunk. If you want to get drunk, have a few mixed drinks or down a bottle of wine or two. Maybe even have a few shots of whiskey. By virtue of alcohol content, compared to hard liqour or wine, beer is a drink of moderation. Now, moderation flys out the window if you are drinking cases of beer from a funnel or playing quarter bounce like a college student. Quantity and volume in the long run will always trump moderation, no matter how slight the alcohol content. For that matter, beer drinking duration is another bump in the road. It is the time that one puts into the event that gets one into trouble. Drinking beer over a twelve hour period, even 3.5-4% beer will lead to a serious bout of drunkenness. How about cross polination? Quantity + Duration = Profound Drunkenness.

Not being a mixed drink drinker or a serious whiskey guy, I can honestly say that when it comes to inebriation soley from beer, I have been there. I know the quantity thing. I know the duration thing. I know the polination of the two. Beer can get you drunk. So where does this moderation thing come in? For me moderation came into play gradually overtime. Over a slow period of moving away from swill beer and learning to appreciate quality, well brewed beer. One or two, ok maybe three or four quality beers satiates your entire being. To borrow a phrase from John Denver, "It fills up your senses." Great taste, smell, mouth feel and after taste, leaves you complete. It takes 12 -24 Light beers to get the same feeling, only it's not the same feeling, you're just drunk. Good quality beer, leaves you euphoric and finished. You don't need anymore. It doesn't mean you can't have anymore. Have as many as you like. But remember, duration and quantity take away moderation. The drink of moderation can easily become the drink of excess. And you know what else? There is nothing wrong with that either. Beers for everyone!

The Beers:

EEL River Brewing, EEL River IPA, This California Micro has done a fabulous job with their IPA. 7% alcohol, this beer pours a dark, rusty, carmel color with a sparkling, white head. The faint hoppy smell does not even indicate the pleasure about to enter your mouth. The first taste is a very well balanced mouthfull of hops. Nothing overpowering or pushing the edge of drinkability as many American Micro's do with their own IPA styles. This is a very drinkable IPA with an ever present, but well balanced hop content. The closer you get to finishing a 12oz glass, the better the beer actually becomes. A true sign of a great beer.

DogFish Head Brewing, Olde School Barleywine: This is a very strong beer. Rolls in at a whopping 15% alcohol. Surprisingly transparent in color. Almost looks like a whiskey in the glass, except for the thin head, which naturally gives it away. There wasn't even a hint of visible carbonation. Slightly sweet, slight fruity smell, raisen like. The first taste was very thick on the tongue, carbonated and warming, almost a burn. Delicious. Not typical of the Barleywine styles I am used to. More Whiskeyish in appearance and taste than a barleywine, but very good none-the-less.

Lindeman's Peche Lambic: Now here is an ale for celebrating a New Years Eve midnight toast. This bubbly peach lambic from the Lindeman's Brewery in Belgium will win many points with the non-beer drinking female crowd. This ale is a pleaser. The beer was so full of peach taste and so refreshing, I think it would go down just as well on a hot summer day sitting on the beach. After having a few Black and Tan's and a Barleywine on New Years Eve, the Peach Lambic hit the spot. Bring a bottle home for the wife and yourself. You won't be sorry. Oh, and it is modestly light in alcohol.