Monday, February 28, 2011

Allagash White

As I write this, another winter is almost past, and with it, another American Beer Month draws close, July to be specific. What’s that you say? You didn’t know July was American Beer Month? For shame, dear reader! After all, what better month than July, those in which we celebrate the founding of our great land, to call attention to the great diversity and wonderfully wide range of flavors that American craft brewers offer in their beer. With the end of winter near and spring lurking, I have the dream of lazy Sunday afternoons outside a pub or floating around a swimming pool (ill bring the beer Robye and you provide the pool). 

For my part, I’ll be enjoying some great domestically brewed beers all month. One that stands out among the many is the one I’m sipping now, Allagash White from Portland, Maine. It’s a great American interpretation of a classic European style, and it really puts the white in the red, white, and blue to sip something so delicious and know it was made in the USA™. Hey, not everything is made in China these days.

Allagash White is styled after those wonderful Belgian “Wit” (white) ales, the most celebrated of which is probably Hoegaarden White. Wit beers are made with a good percentage of wheat in the mash, and this makes them very refreshing and thirst quenching. If you like German styled Hefeweizens in the hot summer months, you’ll love wits as well. Of course, the Belgians are known for their eccentricity, and thus they add spices to their wheat beer: coriander and Curacao orange peel. You will also find these in Allagash’s wonderful white.

I have enjoyed Allagash White on draft at places like Manderes and Sports garage in Folsom. They have bottles at Burger and Brew, 55 Degrees and Holding Company, and lounge on 20 in Sacramento, Ca. I DO NOT recommend lounge on 20- it’s snooty and filled with douche bags you can also get it in four-packs at Bev-Mo, however, or even in corked 750ml bottles (like the one I’m drinking from tonight). No matter how it is packaged, Allagash White is always a treat. It’s great in the hot weather of American Beer Month, but don’t worry: you can enjoy it every bit as much in December (White Christmas?). Or demand a glass in March- like I plan on doing all month the ability to drink such a wonderful beer as this is, after all, guaranteed by the Bill of Whites.

Allagash White pours to a cloudy yellow-white color with a thick and rocky head formation. A steady stream of bubbles rises from the bottom of your glass as you drink, and as the liquid recedes with each sip a generous layer of Brussels lace is left clinging to the sides of the glass. The nose suggests spicy fruit and tart wheat.

When you sip, the palate releases a burst of flavors across the mouth like a detonating firecracker. Tart wheat forms the stage of the beer against which strong notes of orange, suggestions of fresh berries, and hints of coriander all make their appearances. The finish is rather tart with crisp wheat and a slight hop bitterness that leaves the beer appetizingly dry.

This is a perfect beer for simple summer sipping; it’s also wonderful with a light salad of fresh greens and assorted other vegetables. I personally like to pair this beer with orange tofu and rice, yum. But the absolute best time to sip an Allagash White? Why white now, of course.

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