A brief departure... Tonight I'm drinking Shiner Kölsch produced by the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. I've long been a fan of the Shiner Bock made by the same brewery. Who would have thought that Czech and German immigrants to Texas could have joined forces to make such good beers? The Shiner Bock is a medium dark beer that has a great nutty flavor and goes down smooth. The brewery makes a half dozen or so beers, but aside from the Bock, the one other one to reach the Memphis market is the Kölsch, and that was just last month.
(For my international readers, that creature on the label is a horned toad, actually a lizard. They're angry little things that can swell up and shoot blood from their eyes, and live in the deserts of the American Southwest.)
Kölsch is a light, mildly bitter beer from Köln (Cologne), Germany. Even though that's a controlled appellation for the region, the folks at Shiner are still using it. That kind of thing happens here... we've got loads of terrible wines that go by the names Burgundy and Champagne, but this is a decent beer. It has an appealing, smooth aroma, with a slightly bitter, crisp flavor and great hops and malt tastes on the back end. Somewhere in there is just a tiny bit of lemon.
It's light and refreshing enough for summer consumption, but amazingly, the weather finally shifted to something fall-like here in Memphis, due to the arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Rita. I used one bottle in the beef stew and quaffed two bottles with dinner. Although this isn't as strong as an India Pale Ale, I still love a good bitter beer. Tea and coffee are bitter, but are frequently softened with sugar or cream, and neither are really drunk with meals (except for iced tea, the staple of Southern restaurants, but it's almost always modified with sugar or artificial sweeteners). So the only option for a bitter beverage for dinner is a hoppy beer. Sometimes you're in the mood for it, and why deprive yourself?