As the saying goes, “opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.” Taste is inherently a matter of opinion, particularly when it comes to beer. So since I have lots of time off over the holidays and I plan to do a lot of beer drinking, I thought I’d share some of my opinions with you. I’ll try to avoid vague statements like “this beer is awful” and instead try to use more erudite and accurate descriptions like “this beer tastes like burnt tire rubber.”
Beer #1: BlueRidge Snowball’s Chance Winter Ale. I’m drinking it from a seasonally-appropriate Rogue “Santa’s Private Reserve” glass (which I got at their brewpub in Portland, OR earlier this year). The festive glass makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. At six percent ABV, I don’t think it’s the alcohol making me feel that way.
A pleasantly sweet caramel rolls across my tongue and is swiftly cleansed by a mild bitterness, finishing crisply with just a hint of malt-accented richness. This would go well with a bitter dark chocolate like, well, let me see what I’ve got in the fridge. . . a half-eaten Dark Chocolate with Almonds from Equal Exchange, organic and fair trade certified. Delicious.
This is brewed at the newly-named Wild Goose Brewery (formerly Frederick Brewery) in Frederick, Maryland, purchased earlier this year by Flying Dog Brewing from Denver, CO. BlueRidge is/was a brand brewed under contract by Frederick Brewing, so I tried to find out if the brand would continue under the new ownership.
According to a press release, Frederick’s Wild Goose brand will continue to be brewed, but I couldn’t find anything about BlueRidge. I did find a web site for a Blue Ridge Brewing Company in Greenville, NC. The site advertises “Happy Hour 7 Days a Week.” Perhaps that’s why the “Our Story” page was blank. In any case, they are neither the makers nor the marketers of the BlueRidge line produced at Wild Goose Brewery. The mystery goes unsolved for now.
The craft brewing market is becoming increasingly complex, with ownership deals blurring the lines between brewers and marketers and perhaps most disconcertingly, the line between corporate megabrew and local craft brew. More on that in future posts.