Category Archives: Beer Talk and Reviews

Origins of National Lager Day, Lack of

When I heard the news today, I first thought: I’ve no lagers at home. I second thought, since when? As declared by whom? One can find it repeated throughout the web today as though it had always been so. Curiously, no mention of the original proponent of declaring this 10th of December the day, or why this day. One might think the National Lager Foundation but alas, there is none.

An Occam’s Razor-type guess is that it comes from someone hoping people will buy more lagers; thus, someone who trades heavily on lagers. AB announced a survey in time for commemorating this holy day. Sam Adams (I think they have a lager…) released survey results too and an infographic and Jim Koch gave his “top 10” reasons to drink a craft lager (not included was “so that we’ll sell more lager”).

I have put as many minutes into historical google and news searches as I am willing and turned up nothing. It is definitely a recent invention, with the earliest mention I found in 2009.

A 2011 post in the Examiner reported the origins of the “holiday” to be unknown. (their written finger quotes). Perhaps it will stay that way. It is now marked on “food holidays” lists in various places and people love a reason to quaff a beer, even if that means celebrating non-lagers under the auspices of celebrating lager day. Those who are fizzy on lagers and ales should take advantage of the many posts taking the opportunity to explain the difference between ale and lager.

In any case,  a day to celebrate lager cannot be a bad thing. I will try a new one (to me) from Schmaltz (or is it Sam Adams/Alchemy and Science now? I’ll have to check the bottle)–Coney Island Albino Python.

What’ll you have?

*Note: The Albino Python is a great hybrid. I do not dislike wits, but I am not always excited about the banana/clove factor. This beer gets the light and smooth body and the citrus peel/spices of a wit, but has a much cleaner flavor overall with muted (yet present) esters/phenols.

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Stone’s “Crime”: Worthy of Pardon

I suppose I should not talk only about the law of beer on the law.of.beer. The beer of beer is worth talking about, too.

The following is Stone’s official description of Crime: “Crime is Lukcy Basartd Ale (a blend of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard Ale and OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale) brewed with freshly harvested peppers and aged in bourbon barrels. Like a criminal act, this capsicum-laced temptation—brewed with jalapeños and black nagas, to name but a few—provides entrée into the seedy underbelly of Stone’s pepper-induced purgatory.”

The first chili beer I tried was Rogue’s Chipotle, many years back. I recall enjoying the subtle, building warmth and light smokiness. Since then, I have had several more. I recently enjoyed sipping a glass of habenero stout by Aztec in Vista, CA (San Diego). The heat level was notably more aggressive than a restrained use of chili as in Rogue’s Chipotle Ale. Yet, with the robust qualities of the stout to accompany it, it worked well.

I have not yet tried the Punishment, which I hear is quite searing. Crime, though, impressively dabbles with extremity while achieving elegance. A strong whiff of chili, wood, and smoke comes off the nose. Stings the nostrils a bit. But the aroma of chili is rich and fresh–as though whole chilies were floating there in the bottle. A drink reveals oak, mild whiskey notes, and poignant heat. Not a subtle, building warmth but immediate sensation. After a moment of surprise, the heat level was actually pleasurable and remained so. It allowed a full appreciation of the true accomplishment of the beer: the nuanced fruit/aromatic flavor of the chinense family of chili peppers (the nagas in this case, related to habaneros). It can be hard to incorporate high-heat chilies in a dish so that the flavor comes through, while keeping the heat level tolerable. Here, it was done with finesse . . . in a beverage.

Unless you really cannot tolerate heat, in my opinion this beer is a must-try.