here goes my hamsterian take on the three 2008 SAM ADAMS' LONGSHOT WINNERS:
first off, i don't mean to be sexist, but isn't it a bit cool when the ladies win the sam adams' homebrew competition? i'm not sure why that's so exciting to me. maybe it's because, other than ashley brock and e sue young and faith scott, i have not met many female beer geeks. so when carissa sweigart wins with a cranberry wit, of all things, i feel my power - my woman-power - bristle on the edges.
okay, enough politics: let's get to the beer. this cranberry wit pours unfiltered and cloudy. very light with deep pink hues enlivened by a constant and steady stream of carbonation bubbles, looking like prom night on speed. a thin, fully laid white cap covers the top of the glass, through which no significant aromas pass. i'm sniffing for fruit, tartness, some spices, but i get nothing. the first sip is pure wit beer: light and spiced on the edges. the bottle declares "cinnamon, orange peel, coriander and grains of paradise," all before a "touch of cranberry." the first sip only reveals cinnamon in the background, like a box of red hots accidentally fell into the mash. after a little bottle-swirling, in an effort to agitate all those spices and yeasts in the bottom, the beer looks like a glass of grapefruit juice: dark pink fleshy-juice and thick cloudy yeast haze. more complex flavors shine through now. orange peels and coriander are mostly prevalent. little sign of cranberry, even tartness. however, some small wash of brightness does flow along the sides of the tongue, mellowing out the overt spiciness and making this wit extremely light and more drinkable than most beers in this genre. although i would never buy a sixer of this, i like having these two bottles for the trial.
NOTE: my second bottle was much better. this is a very exciting beer, an amusement park of spices and fruits all crammed and roller coastering around in one glass. i told my dear friend, sir jason scott, that this beer is like a good m. night shabalabahonda film: too much to take in the first time. bright, spicy, refreshing, cloudy and full-bodied - yes, ma'am, i would definitely buy this beer in sixers and serve it at dinner parties.
so mike from california says he tossed in "over six pounds of hops per barrel" in his double-IPA (9% ABV). i'm not sure if that's a lot or not, but the aroma is as hairy as liquid sasquatch. smells like a walk in the northern woods: lots of pine, lots of earthy pitch, lots of tree-sap and bursting green. this is a transcendental aroma in a beer that wants to jump out of the glass and live as deliberately as thoreau. first sip: whitman whiskers! this thing is mowing me down. thick, thick biscuit bottom under a spicy, piney hopped top. this is a great double IPA: not too much, but definitely earning its 9% alcohol ranking. i would buy sixers and twelvers of this. hound it and hide it in my little cellar closet down here on the first floor. my hat is off to mike in california - this beer is lovely.
unfortunately, i've had my fill of german beers around these parts. and, equally unfortunate for alex drobshoff from california, texas has depleted its ideal cool evenings where such a thick and heavy beer stakes claim. still, i will come with open olfactories and taste buds. pours dark leather brown. very little head or carbonation: nothing's alive on the inside. plus, i'm not getting any aroma here. even sniffed the coffee in the kitchen to double check my sniffer, and it works, but i can't smell anything on this beer. (same as shiner bock). the first sip of drobshoff's traditional bock (6.8% ABV) weighs in syrup heavy. also, it's sweet, sweet, sweet and more sweet. lots of malt, with small gushes of cherry. why anyone would brew (or drink) a bock is beyond me. they are heavy, sticky, chewy beers. the beverage equivalent of creamed corn, without all the lumps. i'll be giving the extra bottle of this to marky-mark pepe-guzman who just loves-loves-loves him some bock. he be german, i suppose.