Last Beer Drank: 2011 Relic Antiquity
Today's beer has been aged for a bit above the recommended year for optimal taste. I was given it last December by Relic owner and head-brewer Mark Sigman to sample after it had aged appropriately.
This beer pours out a dark deep chestnut, and sit in the glass with a slight, bubbly head. It smells light to moderately sweet with only the hint of a nose. At first sip I get a lot of bright, bubbly carbonation with a medium sweetness riding in. This taste then settles into more of a rich molassesy flavor that shifts to lighter coffee tone. As soon as the flavor shifts to the lighter coffee tone the beer comes to a smooth, medium carbonated finish that fades quickly. This beer is interesting as it is rich and complex, but it lacks the very thick, heavy body that is usually associated with such flavor profiles. The main thing that comes out (besides the carbonation) is a rich coffee/molasses flavor tone that leads to a very pleasingly smooth after taste. This beer is honestly rather unique for beers of this region. Most "New England beers" focus on bitter hops, big bodies, thick tasty malting, or a combination of all three. This beer is big, but has a neutral enough aftertaste that allows this 7.2% beer to go down without a hitch
Going down without a hitch is a nice lead in for my musing of the day (or week, whatever): what temperature does it need to hit for beer snobs to give up their high standards and go for an easy drinking beer? For me it's around 70 degrees; anything over that and it gets real uncomfortable drinking big imperials and super bitter IPAs real quick! This suspension of desired beer quality is a phenomenon that I have often heard referenced to as the "lawnmower effect:" when it's hot outside and you're doing stuff (BBQing, mowing the lawn, yard work, sitting in a lawn chair in your undies, etc) there's a certain type of beer that becomes super-palatable despite possible flavor shortcomings.
Now this isn't to say that mild, easy drinking beers are necessarily "bad." Just a few weeks ago, I talked about how Oskar Blues' Little Yella Pils was a great mild beer that actually had significant flavor and taste. So the lawnmower effect, in other words, won't make you drink bad beer but just lean towards beers that are easily drinking. Unfortunately, due maybe to advertisement indoctrination or memories of us furtively sipping cheap beer, guiltily underage at family picnics: when we think of "easy drinkable beer" we are lead down the aisles to the cheapest beer we can find.
But I don't think that's a bad thing.
No, when the lawnmower effect revs to full bore, the heat is pounding down, the sweat is falling like rain, and my body is crying out with thirst . . . well my first reaction would be to go for a cold glass of water. Failing that (or if I'm at an outdoor event of some kind) I'm gonna go for a beer with a light body, sweet tone, and low ABV (to avoid both cotton mouth and passing out in the unforgiving summer sun). For me, my go-to summer "lawnmower beer" has to be a Narragansett, Molson Canadian, or a Killian's. The Narragansett comes in big cans, can be slipped in a cozy to keep cool, and pulls nice and easy with only a hint of malting. A good Molson has a nice chilly bite with a little sweetness to balance out the barely perceptible bitters. And the Killian's, where maybe a bit heavier in the body category, is just a nice, sweet beer that offers many fond memories of summer nights past (for me at least).
When the summer heat kicks up, at you're feeling the haze of the lawnmower effect settle into your brain next time: don't resist. Go ahead, indulge yourself! The Belgians with tasty, thick malts will always be there. The monstrous IPAs that bitter the tongue and delight the brain will keep 'till fall. Why not kick back pool side (in-ground, above-ground, kiddie, or otherwise) with a nice tall boy of something cheap and revel in the delights of bitingly cold beer that won't kick your taste-buds in, but will instead just give them a chilly high-five
What are your favorite lawnmower effect beers? Are you a bigger beer snob than I and just power through the hot weather with imperial stouts, damning the oppressive heat? I want to hear it! Until next time be sure to check out Relic Brewing Company on Facebook and on their website. Also follow me on Blogger, Facebook, and Twitter to stay current with all my beer musings and ramblings.