Baxter the dog doesn't need a week off like the Washington State football team, as he is back this week with his beers of the games. He's had a stressful last few days, as his best friend Amanda has been out of town in Maine with her mom and aunt. Luckily, she knocked over a basket full of scarves on the way out, creating a nice little spot for Baxter to lay down in her absence. I couldn't deprive him of that (read: too lazy to pick the scarves up).
Even in the face of this adversity, Baxter has endured to come through with his beer of the game(s). Now, this beer is going to have to keep us going all day, as there isn't one specific contest to which it can be attached. In light of this situation, Bax sent me to the store to pick up a session beer.
Now session beers are generally not my favorite. They are lower in alcohol, so more of them can be consumed over a long period of time (a session!). As many of you have probably figured out, I am a bit of a hophead and love my IPAs.
The problem is, IPAs aren't session ales. Most are pushing seven percent ABV, or about twice the ABV as that cheap light beer you drank in college that made you feel like a heavyweight. Luckily, Otter Creek Brewing out of Middlebury, VT came to my rescue.
Otter Creek recently released a beer called "Hop Session." They describe it as a little more than a pale ale, but not quite an IPA. I first tried it at the Vermont Brewers' Festival this summer, and have had it a few more times at the brewery (which is about 45 minutes south of Burlington). It's got just 4.25 percent ABV and only 35 IBU (international bitter units - IPAs generally are closer to 60 or more).
Craig's review: This beer smells like a heavily-hopped IPA. It's impressive how they are able to do that with such a small IBU. The flavor starts out like a traditional pale ale, with a mostly balanced flavor where the hop is just barely overshadowing the malt.
As the beer moves back, there is a bit of bitter kick at the end. That, along with the aroma, is what separates this beer from a standard pale ale. I enjoy it, especially for a beer that isn't going to have me feeling tipsy after a couple.
For reference, it's a lot like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (which I assume most of you have had), but with more of a hop character.
Baxter's review: I was laying on my pile of scarves, and Craig called me over. It was really exciting, I thought he was going to pet me. Instead he shoves a glass in my face, demanding that I "smell the hops!"
I didn't want to smell the hops. He tricked me into trying it out of his hand again. Gross. Someday I won't fall for that.
So that is what we are having on this day off of from Cougar football. What will you be having?