WSU plays in possibly the toughest division in all of college football, and that had many scratching their heads trying to figure the Cougars' path to a repeat bowl appearance in 2014. Unfortunately, most of those projected paths involved the Cougs beating Rutgers in Seattle. Sad news to report: That didn't happen.
So now any route to a bowl game looks different. Certainly Nevada is one of those, and Portland State. Then it's up to WSU to grab four conference wins from a group that seems to be even tougher than last season. That means at least one more win when the Cougs are an underdog. Safe to say, the original path to six victories has changed.
You could say that if WSU is to end up in a bowl game, it's now on an "alternate route."
And that's the inspiration for Baxter's beer of the game this week: Alt Route, a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing.
Alt Route is part of a special edition 12-pack called "Beer Camp" that Sierra Nevada released this summer. It was a beer geek's paradise: 12 different collaboration beers with 12 of the best breweries in the United States.
I typically buy beers as singles, not 6-or-12 packs, so a 12-pack with 12 different beers was right up my alley. The best thing? For the most part, the beers were good. My favorites were likely the milk stout collaboration with Ninkasi and Ballast Point's India Pale Lager. Alt Route is an Altbier, which is sometimes branded as an "Amber."
But Altbiers and American Amber Ales can actually be totally different beers, despite similarities in appearance and sometimes taste.
American Ambers are basically just American Pale Ales that are balanced more with darker roasted malt.. Altbiers are actually an ale-lager hybrid, similar to steam beers, kolschs and Baltic Porters. Altbiers are fermented with ale yeast but at lager temperatures (ales usually ferment around room temperature, lagers in the 40s).
The desired result is the sweet, fruit flavors of an ale with the crisp finish of a lager. Alt Route does a fine job achieving that.
Craig's Review: This is probably more accurately described as an "American Altbier" as "American" usually means "hoppier" because American hop varieties tend to be more robust. Alt Route does have the malt forwardness and a nice finish, and the extra hoppiness makes it a little more desirable for my American taste. All around excellent effort from one of the beers I was least excited to try out of the 12-pack.
Baxter's Review: It's Friday and Amanda is supposed to be back. She always gets back from work on Friday. I've been staring out the window all day looking for her. The beer was nice, at least it let me relax a bit, but I still need to stare out the window some more just in case.
I've tried to tell him that she doesn't come back until Saturday this week. He doesn't seem to understand, which is weird since he was able to write a few sentences for this post and also somehow knows it is Friday (or at least he can tell a certain amount of time has passed). Dogs are weird.
Well that's what Baxter and I are having for this special Friday edition of Cougar football. What are you drinking?