I love herbal beers but I particularly think sage works wonders in the right beer. But good luck pitching a story about the so-narrow-it’s-nearly-two-dimensional field of sage beers. Unless there’s a hook, a peg, an angle. Hence, I waited months until I figured CraftBeer.com would want something on Thanksgiving beers, especially ones to suggest that aren’t flavored like pumpkin pie! And since a good stuffing mix and turkey brine includes sage, well, here’s a round-up of beers so sagey, they’re sagacious.
From BeerAdvocate #114:
In 1983, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. Not in the Pale Ale category, mind you, but it was one of three beers singled out for honors in the Consumer Preference Poll. At the time, the beer was just three years old. Today, 33 years later, the brand remains the tippy-top selling craft brewed beer in America. Brian Grossman, 31, is Sierra Nevada co-founder Ken Grossman’s son and manages the company’s second brewing facility in Mills River, N.C. He proclaims that he absolutely drinks this beer every week. “[Pale Ales are] the Swiss army knives of beers,” he says. “They’re about 5 percent [alcohol], mid-30s IBU, have nice hoppiness, go great with a wide variety of foods, and are sessionable.”
According to Chicago-based market researcher firm IRI, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a $130 million juggernaut, but “Pale” has diversified and split off in hoppier, bolder directions. It has evolved past its original, caramel malt-driven British template. It has even morphed beyond the brasher, hop-centric American iterations. Name a brewery that opened between 1980 and the early 2000s though, and it most likely featured a Pale Ale prominently in its core line-up—even if that wasn’t the flagship brand.
And then India happened.
Although bursting with a sour punch and finishing with a pinch of salinity, the once arcane Gose is not a margarita in beer form. Today, some iterations continue to hinge on the style’s tradition while others boldly bring it into the 21st century. As with many beer styles, brewers in the United States update them in distinctly American fashion. Ironically, for a nation of hop-loving beer drinkers salt is perceived as a flavor enhancer even though it suppresses bitterness. (Odds are, if your grandpa didn’t shake salt into his beer, some of his buddies did.) Which begs the question: will the building Gose wave—Nielsen reported that Gose revenue grew by 291 percent last year—win over palates with a tsunami of salt?
Brewers are musicians who compose songs made of beer. Put these brewing and musical artists together and the ensuing duets (bruets? brewets?) and the results can be music to your mouth.
Many bands are comprised of a guitar, bass, drums and a singer. Beer is made from hops, malted barley, water and yeast. The similarities between those four instruments and ingredients truly rock!
Think of a beer’s malt bill as the bass, providing the foundation by laying down the rhythm. Hops are analogous to guitars, as top notes keep everything in harmony and are usually flashier. Tempo is the crucial element of any given piece—yet rarely gets the glory—so water plays the role of drums. Finally, what’s a song without a melody, so think of the voice as yeast. Coincidence? Find out in this CraftBeer.com post from Sept 2012.
Kids in the Brewhouse is the first story I wrote for this magazine in 2008 (Vol. 30, Iss. 2, 2009) about the second generation of craft brewers. Not the men and women who opened the second-wave of craft breweries, mind you, but the first wave’s founders’ kids.