Hello and welcome the first beer series pairing. Matthew started this great tradition and after he left LL I offered to start doing it. I had planned on doing a beer about a week ago, but things change and I had to adapt. I have a feeling I'll recommend beer based on where the M's are, the current weather and neat releases. I'm absolutely open to any feedback and look forward to honing these posts as the season continues. So let's get to it!
I had planned on writing about the 77 session ale from Fremont but it's already out of season and luckily the SBWOP is very similar in concept. At only 4.5 percent ABV, it is light in color and very refreshing. It has wonderful notes of tropical fruit, hints of pine and light caramel tones throughout.
The Mariners begin the season against the not-all-that-exciting A's. Every time these two teams play each other, I always remember that adorable .gif of the two baby goats butting heads. In that vein I want to introduce you to the session beer. A style of beer originating in England, they are brewed to be low in alcohol so that friends can gather round the pub and have a 'session'. Craft beer in the states has drifted away from that style of brewing and most craft drinkers are always raving about imperial this and barrel aged that.
Lately, there have been some breweries dabbling in a new style. The ISA (India Session Ale), they often are under five percent ABV and feature loads of hops. These are wonderful beers to enjoy on a sunny day while sipping a few during a three hour event. Sounds like what a lot of us will be doing tomorrow. I'm sure people who like hoppy beers will enjoy this wonderful little beer and I also think people who generally steer clear of hoppy beer will also like it.
I really want these series to be more than just recommending a beer, I also want to introduce various topics about beer. So in this post I'll talk a bit about hops. Nearly all beer is made of water, malt, hops and yeast. Malt is what gives beer its sweetness and hops is what balances it by its bitterness. But hops don't always have to be bitter, they can add a fruity, spicy or woody characteristic.* Hops become bitter the longer they are exposed to heat in the brewing process, they also tend to lose their aroma while boiling. To counter this brewers often add hops at the beginning of the boil, this gives the beer its bitter bite and near the end of the boil to add aroma. Many brewers will add hops to the beer while it is in the fermenter, which will add only aroma and minimize the bitterness, this is called dry hopping. The SBWOP is a great example of the effect of dry hopping.
Along with a beer pairing, I also will recommend a cheese to go with it. Hope a few of you are okay with this. For this series' beer I'd go with a truly humble but versatile cheese. Melted Cheddar. I know, it's a bit anti-climatic and rather bland seeming, trust me, I will do something more exotic in the future. The mild fat content helps bring out the hops profile and the light caramel and carbonation meshes nicely with the texture of the cheese. I hope during this series you can sit down with a can of Fremont SBWOP, a plate of nachos and enjoy the beginning of the season.
* There are many more flavors, I'll cover that in another post.