A refreshing beer and a meal in the cooling shade of the beer garden: It’s a beloved rite of spring and summer that dates back to early nineteenth-century Bavaria. For several years, the citizens of Munich had taken to spending more of their time (and cash) during the warmer months at the beer cellars along the banks of the Isar, preferring these shaded chestnut groves to the stuffy inns where the beer was decidedly less fresh. Innkeepers were incensed and petitioned King Maximilian I. Joseph of Bavaria (1806–1825) to do something to stop these dastardly brewers from serving beer garden food.
Sitting here in 2020, in the midst of a still-unfolding pandemic, multiple summers into the era of hard seltzer, it feels like it’s been considerably more than two years since we conducted a ridiculously large blind tasting of 324 IPAs at Paste.
If you had asked me to cite some of my favorite beer styles in advance of that particular blind tasting, I don’t think there’s a shred of doubt that one of my first responses would have been modern, hazy IPA, or “NE-IPA” as we were more commonly calling it at the time. I had fallen in love with the style as much as anyone in the mid-2010s, watching the influence of pioneers like The Alchemist’s Heady Topper radiate across the country, gaining footholds on the East Coast first, before gradually being adopted everywhere. It was hard not to be charmed by the style’s easygoing disposition, fruit-forward flavors, lack of bitterness and continued evolution of the “juicy” flavor profile that had already been sought after in clear India pale ales of the period. It seemed like a clear reflection of changing consumer tastes, and I was excited to try new hazy IPAs from nearly every brewery I visited.
This comes from an argument I had quite a while ago with another BJCP judge about how we talk about colors: specifically amber. If you look at the picture at the top of the column you may note that actual amber is certainly not just one color, and definitely not always lighter than what we think of as copper, though copper is not a singular color. It does vary… somewhat.
If you look into the colors of honey there are variations on amber honey too in mead judging. So why do we stick to one hue? One variation? Shouldn’t we have gradations to more accurately reflect the actual color? I might even consider dropping copper if considering light to dark, because copper is more a hue variation with the addition of a red tint to it. Copper, when it comes to light to dark, could be covered by amber.
I do believe in standards, but standards that reflect the nature of the color, not one singular nature. I have read the argument that everyone is familiar with the standard color due to amber the substance that is commonly used in jewelry. My father made jewelry out with amber setting all the time, but that practice seems to have faded with better fake gems. That one version may have gotten a slight kick from Jurassic Park, but how long ago was that? Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Amber”
Kloster Andechs occupies a central place in the pantheon of German brewing. Founded by Benedictine monks in 1455, Kloster Andechs has been offering hospitality to weary pilgrims ever since. Now run by the Benedictine Abbey of St. Boniface in Munich, Kloster Andechs is the largest of the handful of bona fide monastery breweries remaining in Germany. It’s also one of the few regional German breweries with beers reliably available this side of the pond. (Even if you haven’t already tried the beers of Kloster Andechs, you’d probably recognize the label depicting a Baroque monastery surrounded by greenery.) Though Kloster Andechs still welcomes upwards of one hundred organized pilgrimage groups per year, the monastery plays host to scores more people who make the trek for a different reason: the world-class beer.