Monday, March 17, 2008

Wexford Irish Cream Ale

*NOTE* This post was intended for St. Patrick's Day 2008, but job stuff got hectic and prevented me from posting it. Here it is in its entirety. I kept the post date the same, as it was started on that day.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Be sure to have one on your friend The Beerocrat tonight...and drive safe.

My St. Paddy's Day beer of choice is my attempt at getting an Irish (or at least Irish-style) beer that wasn't a member of the Guinness family. My choice: Wexford Irish Cream Ale, which takes its name from Ireland's County Wexford. According to the can (yes, this beer is canned, which is not uncommon amongst imported beers and even U.S. craft breweries), Wexford Irish Cream Ale's recipe is based on a similar one brewed in the eponymous county back in 1810. Thames America, one of the American importers, says that the recipe was then used by five generations of the family-owned Wexford Ale Company. It is now brewed by Greene King Brewing Co. in Suffolk, England. Hey, at least it has Irish roots. (Thames America's Wexford site)

Here come the limited stats:

Wexford Irish Cream Ale
BREWERY: Greene King Brewing Co., Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England
STYLE: Irish Cream Ale
FIRST BREWED: 1810, according to the can
ABV: 5%

I got the brewery, first brewed info, and ABV from the can, which can also be found on importer Thames America's Wexford site. Through that site, I sent an e-mail to get the rest of the missing pieces.

Like a lot of well-known beers imported from the British Isles, Wexford has a widget full of nitrogen placed inside during the canning process, which gives it a burst of creaminess to the flavor and allows you to bring the pub experience home with you. Wexford's widget looks like this, which is similar to Guinness' can widget in size and shape:

Apparently, its the first widgeted Irish Cream beer sold in the US. (Thames America's Wexford site)

The beer itself was a translucent amber color. The tan head exploded in the bottom of the glass, even when I poured it slowly (probably on account of the nitrogen). It flowed downward, much like a Guinness does. Its nose had a bit of grainy-hoppiness to it. The taste was creamy and grainy, almost velvety; it was very rich for an amber ale. The finish was nice and faint with no hoppy aftertaste.

Overall, this is a well-done beer. Considering that it was the closes thing to an Irish beer that I could find (no Beamish), I may just have this every March 17th.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sierra Nevada Updates

I updated a couple of my Sierra Nevada posts to add caloric, temperature, and food pairing information. I should have a new entry tomorrow, but take a look at these pages for the updates:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale (2007 Vintage)

Number 5 on my Clean Out the Fridge Countdown Part Deux was originally going to be Full Sail Brewing's Ltd. Number 2 Lager. Unfortunately, my bottle has long since expired, and Jaime Emmerson from Full Sail said their beers taste their absolute best within the first 120 days of bottling. Hence, it has been taken out of the countdown and replaced with a beer that I've been conditioning for the past year. You'll find out what that is soon.

Instead, the distinction of Number 5 is going to Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale (for brewery history, see my Sierra Nevada Summerfest and Sierra Nevada Stout pages). This beer, named because it is brewed each year for the anniversary of the opening of the brewery in 1980, was actually only available at their brewpub in Chico until 2007, when it was bottled for the first time. Said founder Ken Grossman:

When we heard people had driven all the way from San Francisco last year to try some of this beer, and how disappointed they were when they couldn't take some home, we figured it was time to make our Anniversary Ale available to everyone on a consistent basis.
Also, according to Sierra Nevada Brand Manager Sierra Grossman (who also happens to be the daughter of the founder), demand for the beer to be bottled grew sharply after the 25th batch was brewed in 2005. It is an American-style IPA that took home the Silver at the Los Angeles County Fair in the American-Style Strong Pale Ale category. (Anniversary Ale Press Release, Sierra Nevada awards)

Here come the stats:

Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
BREWERY: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA, USA
STYLE: American-style IPA
FIRST BREWED: 1981 (draft), 2007 (bottled)
CALORIES/SERVING: 189 per 12 oz. bottle
ABV: 5.9%
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 14.9° Plato (1061.04)
MALTS: Two-row pale, caramel & munich
HOPS: Chinook, cascade
FOODS TO PAIR WITH: Assertive aged cheeses, southeast Asian or Indian dishes, west coast salmon, bittersweet chocolates
AWARDS: 2007 Los Angeles County Fair Silver Medal (American-Style Strong Pale Ale category)

All the information except for the calories and the serving temperature came from the Anniversary Ale web page. Those other two pieces of information came from sources at the brewery.

The beer poured a clear bright amber color, producing a foamy slightly off-white head that stayed awhile. Bubbles were clearly seen ascending from the bottom of the glass, reminiscent of champagne (take that Miller High Life). The nose was more hoppy than grainy, but still fainter than usual. The taste was a hoppiness that transformed to a wheaty flavor and texture towards the finish. The aftertaste was a bit hoppy, but not overly so, and it didn't remain for long. It was very fresh tasting overall.

While maybe not hoppy enough for hopheads, Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale is one beer I'll be having at least once every year. Pick it up at your local beer store. (I don't know about distribution areas, but you could probably get it anywhere on the west coast, the closer to Chico the better.)