Thursday’s Beer from the Other Side of the World

Well, our TAP NY trip is cancelled, so there goes about 50 column and blog ideas. Still, I’m sure bruce and I will get to plenty of good beer festivals this summer. And surely we’ll find plenty of interesting and exotic beers here. For example:

Harbin Lager from the great brewing nation of China.

Now I’ve had enough Asian beers to know what I’m getting into. I don’t expect lagers that rival Munich Helles or Czech Pilsner. What I hope to find, however, is a crisp, refreshing, generally slightly malty lawnmower beer.

Harbin Lager is not crisp. It’s not refreshing. If I had a lawn, this beer would get nowhere near it. A pale yellow color, thin vanishing head, and corny aroma scream “American Macro Lager.” Unfortunately, the taste is even less memorable than any of those. If you’re looking for an Asian option, grab a Tsingtao, Asahi, or Tiger Beer from Singapore over this any day of the week.

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What’s that bright yellow thing in the sky?

Finally, a respite from the abysmal Rochester weather! We dragged the grill out for the first time. Bruce brought over some King Pilsner from Canada, a true decoction Pilsner that actually edged out Steam Whistle as my favorite North American example of the style. In addition to the clean, refreshing taste and skillfully balanced hop bitterness, the King also had a distinct malt flavoring and substantial body. Quite nice. Too bad I can’t freakin’ buy it here.

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Bruce enjoying King Pilsner in the wrong glassware

I’m looking forward to TAP NY this weekend down Hunter Mountain way. I’ll be pouring for Rohrbach, so let me know you read my shit and I’ll give you an extra big sample glass. And then another.

-Mark

Awesome freakin’ news!

I had a great night yesterday. Beer school had its best attendance yet, with around 30 people showing up to sample Hefe-Weizen. Thanks to everyone who came out, and remember, if you don’t think Paulaner Hefe-Weizen is the best, you’re wrong and quite possibly a danger to society.

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Pat Hughes and myself preparing a flight

Later on, I found out that Joe McBane, Cellar and Bar Manager for The Old Toad, is buying the old MacGregor’s Gregory street locataion. “It’s going to be the best beer bar in Rochester,” he confidently stated.

I hope so. Downtown MacGregor’s was my favorite bar, and I’d do anything to see that place opened again, especially by McBane, whose knowledge and passion for beer made the Toad’s selection so eclectic and delightful. Good luck buddy!

TAP NY looms large

Bruce and I will be heading down to New York State’s best beer festival next weekend (April 28 and 29). Bruce will be Representing the Rohrbach Brewing Company and pouring beer. I shall be his able-bodied assistant.

This is a great festival. The food is awesome, the setting gorgeous, and you can try beer from over 30 New York State breweries. If you can make the trip to Hunter Mountain, it’s worth considering.

-Mark

Beer School this week: Hefe-Weizen

Once again, Pat Hughes and I will be offering a free tasting and info session on Thursday, April 19, at Monty’s Korner, 7pm.

We’ll be prepping folks for the warmer weather by offering a flight of Hefe-Weizen, the preeminent Bavarian wheat beer. Come down and try examples from Munich and beyond, including the best that American craft brewers have to offer.

Hopefully, this time we can avoid the drunken financial analyst alpha male dudes and cackling office hens that the holiday stuck upon us at the last session.

-Mark

Beercraft newspaper column #37- Rohrbach at the Ballpark

Play ball with the Rohrbach Brewing Company

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

Take me out to the baaall game
Take me out to the croooowd
Buy me some Scotch ale and IPA
I don’t want fizzy lager todaaaay…

Whoops! Sorry. It seems we’re getting a bit carried away now that baseball is back. Here’s to another season full of everything the old ball game is about: exciting defensive plays, towering home runs, and hurling verbal abuse at the visiting players.

And what’s baseball without beer? The two are inextricably linked. Across the country, ballparks have been good for the craft brewing industry. Most major league stadiums have at least one microbrewery stand. It’s a testament to how this section of the brewing industry has grown.

Our own stadium, Frontier Field, may not exactly be a major league park, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be hurting for decent beer. Let’s start behind home plate, at the Rohrbach Brewing Company stand. These guys have been making craft beer for the Rochester market for over a decade, and you can get some of their signature brews right there at the ballpark.

In fact, the Rohrbach Red Wing Red is only available at Frontier Field and the home brewpub. It’s moderately dark, sweet, toasty ale without a great deal of hop bitterness. This beer is pretty accessible, even to those who aren’t so used to micros, and it goes well with those Red Osier roast beef sandwiches.

For those who’d like a bit more kick, there’s the Rohrbach Scotch Ale, a Rochester classic. It’s much darker than the Red, but not as opaque as a porter or stout would be. As with all Scotch ales, malt rules the day, making for a very sweet, robust, slightly caramel flavor.

Be careful with the Scotch Ale, though. You might not necessarily taste it, but the 7.8% alcohol content can really catch up with you, especially in the heat of a summer day.

Rohrbach’s third offering is a lighter, more refreshing ale that just happens to taste like blueberries. One of the best things about BlueBeary Ale is that it follows the cardinal rule of fruit beers: Provide the essence of the fruit without clobbering the drinker with excess fruit flavor.

It’s actually done rather skillfully. When you lift the glass to your face, there’s a tantalizing whiff of fresh blueberry, but the flavor is all crisp, refreshing pale ale with just a hint of the berry’s presence.

It may not be the most macho beer in the ballpark, but if you were macho, you’d be at a tractor pull and not a baseball game, right? Plus, it’s much lighter in both body and alcohol content than the Scotch ale.

Ultimately, the enjoyment of beer is about context. The traditional beer of baseball is undoubtedly mass-market American Lager, and we’re happy to sit in the stands with a Genesee as well. Still, the beers from the Rohrbach stand are a pleasant alternative that will please more discerning palates, as well as a testament that good things can still come out of Rochester. If you’ve never tried craft beer, they’re also a great way to gently expand your taste range in a neutral setting. And they go nicely with Zweigle’s hot dogs.

Now if only we could get that Conehead guy to bring Rohrbach to our seats…

In Other Beers:
One of the primary ways for homebrewers to improve their skills is to talk to (and share beer with) other homebrewers. The Upstate New York Homebrewer’s Association (UNYHA) offers homebrewers of all skill levels an opportunity to share the highs and lows of their hobby, and they’re always welcoming new members.

The club hosts frequent events and meetings, and counts among its members some of the most skilled homebrewers in the region. Find them on that internet thing at http://www.unyha.com.

Beercraft is presenting Beer School: a free ongoing tasting session hosted by Mark Tichenor and Pat Hughes. This semi-educational event takes place every other Thursday, 7pm, at Monty’s Korner on the corner of Alexander and East Ave. On April 14, we’ll taste Hefe-Weizen. Come down and try some; we’ll even teach you how to pronounce it correctly. Ausgezeichnet!

Bruce is a certified beer judge and commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at http://beercraft.blogspot.com. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to beercraft@rochester.rr.com

Genesee is there…somewhere

Looks like I may have spoken too soon about the lack of Genesee products in Rochester’s baseball stadium. This from Gregg Stacy: Genesee’s Director of Marketing:

We will have 3 draft lines in the new 10th Inning bar that is currently under construction. Two of these will be Dundee’s lines and one will be a Genny Light line. We also have Genesee Beer and Genny Light available at the Bullpen concession stand.

So we’ll look out and hope for the best.

-Mark