I Like Beer: January 2010

Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

    I am not the sort of person to make New Year’s resolutions; I tend to find that I keep them no better or worse than any other promise I make myself, and making a big fuss over them tends to guarantee that I will, indeed, probably make a fool of myself. However, sometimes I make a point of trying something new, getting something different going for myself in the New Year.

    In that spirit, I want to offer all of you some things to try that you might not have considered – I want you to perhaps grab on to the golden ring and do something a little adventurous.  So in the worlds of Reverend Beecher, gird yourself once more, and let’s check out some beer locations that you may not have considered in the past.
    First up: Lebanon. I am pleased to announce that Twin is now carrying Almaza, the national pilsner of the Land of Cedars. Almaza is a light, easy-drinking beer; neither terribly malty or hoppy, it’s a good choice if the beer you like rides the middle of the spectrum. It has a touch of sweetness that makes it pair well with food from the region – maybe Almaza and some kibbe?

    Next, let’s head across the Middle East and Asia to Japan. While Japanese beers are relatively well-known in these parts – you may have had Asahi Dry or Kirin Ichiban – but if you like dark beers, you owe it to yourself to try out Asahi Kuronama, one of the best dark beers I’ve ever had. Kuronama is the Japanese take on the traditional German Schwarzbier (check out this month’s BVB for more information on that), and its dark, toasty flavors act as a great counterpoint to heavier Asian food. There is a nutty, caramel, almost chocolate flavor to Kuronama that I find really appealing, especially given that it manages to retain a refreshing dryness instead of being overwhelmingly rich.

    Our final stop on this month’s tour is Brazil, where Xingu is one of the top-selling brews. No wonder; this dark beer is a rich black lager, somewhat sweet with almost treacly notes on the finish. Xingu has a lot of layers to its body and bouquet; this is not a simple or easy beer to approach, but it carries a great deal of reward for those who are dedicated enough to stick with it. Pair it with roasted meat – or perhaps go all out and make a traditional Brazilian feijoada, a rich, hearty stew of black beans, pork, and beef. That’ll keep you warm in the New Year.
As always, keep your head up, your lace delicate, your malts toasty, and your hops snappy.

THIS MONTH’S BBV (Beer Vocabulary Builder):
    Schwarzbier : A traditional German style of dark lager, using highly roasted malts. It is bottom-fermented, but often can carry coffee or chocolate flavors like some dark ales. Schwarzbiers are not as bitter as stouts or porters.