Taste the Sea

Date: February 14, 2009
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: Mike’s house
Mike Merrill
Josh Berezin

JB: “Kelpie”?
MM: It’s brewed with kelp. At least they’re not hiding it. Let’s crack it open.
JB: No, it might have a strong flavor. Let’s start with the weak beer.
80/1000: Iron City Beer, Pittsburgh Brewing Company
MM: We’re having this because they won the Super Bowl. [toasting] To the Steelers!
JB: How much of this got drunk last Sunday?
MM: Oh, man. It was on special at Bridgetown Beerhouse.
JB: I meant in Pittsburgh.
MM: And all over the world!
JB: I’m not sure how well it’s distributed. I mean, in the last couple of years…
MM: It’s popped up as a competitor to Pabst. Pabst got too cool. It’s not a sweet as Pabst, which is nice.
JB: On the other hand, it hasn’t won a blue ribbon. This beer, it just goes right through. It’s totally inoffensive.
MM: I really like it when it’s really cold, but by the end of your first pint, after it has warmed, it’s just good enough. If it sits out a bit, it can be sort of rank. But other than the Super Bowl, when does one drink Iron City beer?
JB: When you play softball in the park. Take cans of it rafting.
MM: Why wouldn’t you just take Caldera?
JB: You don’t always want a strong beer, you want a drinking beer. It’s a summer thing. Or if you’re trying to drink for cheap. I bet you can just about always get someone to buy you an Iron City. Maybe not a microbrew, but someone will spot you an Iron City.
81/1000: Kelpie Seaweed Ale, Heather Ale, Scotland
JB: Kelp in my beer, that’s what it was missing. That’s what’s been wrong with beer all these years.
MM: You probably didn’t know that prior to the 1850’s, there were many Scottish Ale houses …
JB: I can’t write all this, it’s boring. Get to the kelp part.
MM: …The fields were fertilized with seaweed, which flavored the barley.
JB: That’s kind of cool, actually.
MM: But they’re not doing that. They’re re-creating this effect by including fresh seaweed in the mash tun.
JB: Well, that’s not the same at all.
MM: Seaweed, they call this kind “bladder rack”, taken fresh from the water on the coast, is mashed in with the malted and roasted barley.
JB: But you could mash anything in there.
MM: You’re looking for a rich chocolate ale, which has an aroma of fresh sea breeze, and a distinctive malty texture.
JB: Thanks for all the expository reading. I find myself highly skeptical.
MM: Do you want me to tell you the ingredients?
JB: I don’t.
MM: They are as you might expect. Though they don’t mention it being “bladder rack” in the ingredients. I’m excited about the sea breeze aroma.
JB: Let’s try it. Do you get a sea breeze aroma?
MM: No, it just smells like beer.
JB: It just tastes like beer, too. A dark beer.
MM: I think we got a bad batch.
JB: By “bad” you mean not tasting like the sea?
MM: I can’t detect even a hint of bladder rack.
JB: Scotland has produced better than this.
MM: Name names, give me three.
JB: 1) Clynelish Scotch, 2) Groundskeeper Willie, 3) Plaid. All easily better than this.
MM: It’s a good idea, though! Picture the Scots out brewing their beer, and they notice there’s a lot of water around. They used that to make their distinctive brew. It’s like the Douglas Fir brandy that’s made here in Oregon.
JB: Which is terrible!
MM: But it’s a good idea.
JB: Idea, solid. Execution, uninspired.
MM: I would be happier with this if it tasted worse, and I could taste the seaweed.
JB: I don’t know why they didn’t do it the cool way they described. Fertilizing it with seaweed.
MM: They don’t need to, they have artificial fertilizers.
JB: They shouldn’t tell me about it, then. I didn’t know about that. They set themselves up and then knocked themselves down. I wouldn’t buy this again.
MM: I wouldn’t either.
JB: Maybe if there was an ocean-themed party.
MM: You might buy it based on the label, yeah. If you knew someone who collected seaweed or seaweed-related items, you might buy it for them.
JB: The novelty does not buy it many points in my book. It’s just a novelty name, in fact, since it doesn’t even come through in the flavor.

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