Beer Guy: Cardin-Ale Sins

There’s not a whole hell of a lot that’s considered a sin in craft brewing. Many breweries like to push the limits, adding a variety of ingredients that have traditionally not been used in ales and lagers: mint, chipolte peppers, ghost peppers, bacon, maple syrup. The list is legion, Rogue has even made beer with beard yeast.

But there is one sin out there in craft beer land, and it has little to do with ingredients, but it has a lot to do with serving vessels.

Maredsous8Sure, there’s proper glassware, and while I like to have a pilsner in a pilsner glass, and my big beers in a brandy snifter, I’ll live with beer being served in the wrong glassware. Even at a craft beer bar, you can get away with this. It is, at best, a minor sin – and one we’re all guilty of. It’s not a big deal – even coming from a place that is supposed to be a craft beer destination.

But the one thing that someplace that is supposed to be a destination for craft beer fans needs to get right is that you don’t serve craft beer in a frosted glass.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it’s a reason to abstain from a restaurant with a great selection of craft beer, but it is certainly a reason to question the craft beer cred of the restaurant’s brain trust.

Sure, you can serve the beer in a room temperature glass, or even one that is slightly chilled. But that glass that’s been stored in the freezer? That frosted mug that the macros have been pushing for decades? Serious no no. For those out there who are unfamiliar, there are several reasons why a frosted glass is a major sin – the biggest of which is the fact that the frosted glass, the ice crystals that result from the process of frosting, not only cause foaming problems, but the near-freezing temps that the beer is subject to contributes to numbing the taste-buds and making for a tasting experience that borders on the bland.

The extreme cold also tends to negatively impact aroma (which, of course, in turn, has an impact on flavor). But even beyond the minimizing of your beer’s flavors and aromas, a glass that has spent any real time in a freezer can also pick up the flavors and aromas of other things that have been in the freezer; garlic, onions, and a wide variety of other food-based aromatics can actually infuse the crystals that form on the glass, further tainting your experience.

Yes, the frosted glass is a cardinal sin, but it’s not so bad that you should stop frequenting a favorite haunt. Instead, politely ask your server for a non-frosted glass. If you know the manager, maybe strike up a conversation with him or her, and politely mention that it’s a faux pas in the craft beer drinking community. Remember, education, not alienation.

Tapped and Uncapped

Those of you who have followed me know that, while I’m a hop-head, I am also very much an equal opportunity beer drinker when it comes to style. And for those of you who are into both browns and Belgians, have I got a treat for you – Maredsous 8 Brune. This Belgian brown abbey ale is like drinking beery toffee. Richer and more complex and richer than your standard brown with the dark malts and buttery caramel notes squarely on display, complemented by hints of chocolate and roasted notes.

If you haven’t had this, it is certainly worth seeking out.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.

Slainte.