The Burner Beer Project, February Edition

Burner Beer Project, February Edition*

Having a 12-pack of good beer delivered right to your door really is a blessing. It’s like manna from heaven. No getting in the car. No standing in front of the same set of coolers, looking for something new. No wondering why all the spring seasonals are damn pale ales. No latent shame because the guy behind the counter clearly recognizes you. Just a box of goodness right there on your porch when you get home from work.

I realized I quoted from the “The Frosted Mug” in my January post without explaining what it was. “The Frosted Mug” is a two-sided 8.5 x 11 publication of Amazing Clubs, the company that sells the Beer of the Month packages. It features brief descriptions of each month’s breweries and short descriptions of all four beers, all fairly standard fluff that was either provided by the breweries or cribbed wholesale from their websites. “The Frosted Mug” also features a monthly “Did You Know?” segment. Here’s this month’s “Did You Know?”: “Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty glass.” The other 40% of the “publication” is turned over to ads for other Gift of the Month clubs, for wine, pizza, hot sauce etc.

On to the beers!

Casco Bay Brewing Co (This brewery doesn’t appear to have its own website, but Wikipedia says their beers are available throughout New England.)

Brown Ale

Casco Bay’s Brown Ale is a workmanlike beer. There’s nothing wild or special going one here, but it does what it does well. Dark with an almost reddish-brown color, Brown Ale is bitter up front with a sweet finish and a light and slightly creamy texture. This is a pretty standard brown ale all in all–think of a slightly more bitter New Castle or a Shiner Bock with a bit more body. The included literature claims “aficionados will be delighted by notes of toasted malt, caramel, hazelnut, and a hint of chocolate.” I’ll give them the toasted malt and the hint of chocolate, but the hazelnut and caramel were lost in the general beer flavor.

Would I recommend it? Yes. As I said, there’s not a lot in the way of interesting flavors or experimentation going on here, but this is a solid beer with good flavor and I could easily see drinking six or eight of these on a cool day. This was also Laura’s favorite out of this bunch.

Riptide Red Ale

The Riptide Red is a remarkably flavorless beer. Except for a slight lingering bitterness, there’s just nothing here.

Given that there’s nothing to say here I’d like to talk about last month’s entry in the Burner Beer Project. It seems I caused offense when I said that a coworker’s praise of *shudder* Coors Banquet Beer nearly inspired me to violence.  Dave, our editor-in-chief is a Budweiser drinker and wasn’t keen on having his taste called “shitty.” (Budweiser falling into the same domestic pilsner zone as Coors Banquet Beer)  So I just wanted to say that my love of the kind of  beers I like has been developing over the course of a decade and there’s still lots of stuff out there I don’t like. So I don’t place any judgement on you if you like different types of beer than I do.  In fact, the first beer I drank on any kind of regular basis was Bud Ice. That’s right, “Beware the Penguin,” extra alcohol (Bud has recently resurrected this idea with Bud Light Platinum), super sweet, domestic pilsner. I mention this now because the first types of beer I transitioned to from Bud Ice were Ambers (or Reds): Killian’s, O’Shea’s, Smithwick, etc. Reds had a nice sweetness that I still liked in my beers while adding in some more complex flavors and body. Eventually, as I lost interest in beers with any sweetness, I transitioned away from the reds as well. Now, after tasting the Riptide Red, I can’t help but wonder if they’re all this flavorless. Is it just me? Have I ruined my beer palate for anything that doesn’t take a hops sledgehammer to my tongue?

Would I recommend it? Nope. If you want light, carbonated, slightly bitter water, save yourself the calories and drink some tonic instead.

Chameleon Brewing Company (Chameleon’s website has a “Where to Find Our Beers” page that appears to be a large, alphabetical list of every place in Wisconsin that sells alcohol. You can find it here. If you’re worried about being able to find one of these places on your next trip to Wisconsin, fear not–you can always find Chameleon’s beers at the Piggly Wiggly.)

Ryediculous IPA

The Ryediculous IPA is a rye/IPA hybrid. The use of rye rather than traditional barley in beer brewing has caught on as a trend in the last few years. I’ve had a number of rye beers, and while I know they are different, I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly what it is that makes them different. It’s just a sort of …rye-ness. That being the case, a rye/IPA hybrid ends up being a fairly standard IPA. Caramel colored, the Rydiculous IPA is lightly hoppy for an IPA with a bitterness that hangs around the back of your throat. Its texture is crisp and pleasantly smooth, especially as it warms up. “The Frosted Mug” calls it “[A] medium bodied, well balanced brew [with] a nice finish.” Which is dead on.

Would I recommend it? Sure. It’s an IPA, but a nonstandard IPA with some interesting flavors. It’s not as fruity as some IPAs and has that ineffable ryeness to it. Definitely an interesting beer.

Fire Light

Fire Light is a pretty standard American light beer, golden in color, crisp, light, and a little fruity. Oddly, though, it has a slightly metallic tang. Much like with Riptide Red, I don’t have a lot to say about a beer this unremarkable, so instead let’s check out the overwrought description in “The Frosted Mug.” “True to its name, Chameleon Fire Light is ideal for sitting around a campfire or in front of a fireplace relaxing.” [Ehh I mean this is personal preference, really, isn’t it? I think this works around a campfire after a hot summer day, but to me a fireplace beer (which, let’s be honest, should really be a fireplace whiskey) would be something more like a stout or a brown ale with some body, Casco Bay’s Brown Ale for example.] “The easy-drinking, aromatic [nope] beer – aged for three weeks – seems as if it had been lightly kissed by flames [also nope], thanks to its golden color and toasty, light malt finish. [And that’s a nope hat trick. Like I said, the best description of the finish on this beer is “metallic.”]

Would I recommend it? No. If you only like light beers, you might enjoy this, but there’s just not nearly enough going on here for me.

*Reminder: My monthly beer shipments show up at the end of the month then I need to drink them and write them up, so these posts tend to go up the month after they arrive.

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