Friday, September 17, 2010

OMFG - Beer Review Series - Oxymoron

“Sometime around midnight in a city nobody can agree on, the idea for Left Hand and Terrapin to brew a collaboration beer was born.” Oxymoron is the third installment of this collaboration; living in Atlanta, we get to be among the first to try this small giant. It is available now, almost exclusively, at your favorite craft beer store.

Three German Malts, 6 German hops and lager yeast… I don’t know what to think. It’s a wild ride into crazy town with Iron Sheik at the wheel. It’s an India Pale Lager!?!?! This beer is a cardinal sin; on paper it reads like an Oktoberfest but injects an oxymoron of hops. This element of pine and bitterness is not characteristic of the lager style.

The fast basic on lagers are as follows: Before refrigeration, it was basically impossible to brew this style in the summer because of bacterial infections; therefore, brewing began in fall and ended in spring. March was prime time to create this style. “These brews were kept in cold storage over the spring and summer months, or brewed at a higher gravity, so they’d keep. Märzenbier is full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content.” Lagers must maintain a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and they are then chilled to lower temperatures to produce a smoother beer than warmer temperatures styles. The IPA style, a derivative of the pale ale with lighter colored malts created in the late 1700’s, English brewers added hops to create a more stable beer to withstand the journey to India in the early 1800’s. Hops acted as a natural preservative, and brewers also reduced the amount of fermentable sugars which yielded lower gravity beer. The end result was very drinkable ale that contained a lesser amount of micro-organisms that might spoil the beer on the long journey. Thus, we can see the yin and yang of the Oxymoron.

Finally back to the brew, it pours golden orange with some reddish hue. A tranquil fiesta of white foam laces the glass. The look of this India Pale Lager is amazing, and the pour on this batch is super thick. I was terribly pleased with what I saw, and couldn’t wait to have my first sip.

The smell produced some uncommonly common fragrance. I know it’s a lager but it has pine, citrus, hops, earthy and grass notes.

First sip is creamy…Holy hell it was creamy. The front flavors consist of light bready malt, crackers and light herbs. I was ready to put on my lederhosen and open a jar of sauerkraut. A barrage of friendly fire from the hops broke through this troubled paradise to uncover pine, citrus, apple and honey. The swallow is that of an IPA, very dry and bitter.

My tentative conclusion is a very drinkable beer despite some of the powerful hops. I was totally partial to the hop additions that are uncharacteristic of the style, but in Georgia, we see 80 degree days through October so the hop additions were a perfect fit. This beer seems like a perfectly normal fusion of styles. I highly recommend it for anyone enjoying some of our “mild temperature” days, but don’t want to give up your bitter IPA.



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