not to bust anyone's chops, but...
Summer Lighting is a damn fine beer.
Don't get me wrong - I love a big glass of cascades, with the aromatic linalool and geraniol compounds exploding in my face, and the unmistakeable citric punch of N. American C-hops. In fact, I have rabid vines of centennials overgrowing my second story balcony as we speak - they're like 25 feet tall!!!
As I read your anticipatory emails prior to the release of Summer Lighting, I was worried that you guys were going to have the reaction that you did - that you were expecting something else.
However, all you hop-feinds need to practice a little more "hop appreciation." Get excited about the subtle nuances between varietals. Work at it a little. Train your tongue to pick out the subtle complexities that hops add to a beer, without needing to be hit over the head with the next huge alpha-acid IPA on the market!
Here's the story on Summer Lighting. The brewery has been producing the beer since 1987 or '88 (I don't remember which). It was originally brewed for a Summer beer festival. At that time, it was true that it was considerably lighter in color than most British pale ales. However, that is really no longer the case. On my trip to the U.K. last year, I tasted dozens of similarly pale straw brews.
Summer Lighting is a pint of "pure English." The beautifully delicate floral and slightly herbal/piney character of EKG's is unmistakeable and fantastic. This is the PERFECT hop for balancing the Maris Otter Pale Malt and the brewer exercised expert restraint with his palette of ingredients.
As most brewers will tell you, Maris Otter is one of the most delicate of the pale base malts. It takes a very light touch with the specialty grains and hops to allow the faint toasty-biscuity character to shine through.
Summer Lightning was obviously brewed by a true master brewer. The delicate balance is absolutely perfect. I'm sure that the CAMRA judges appreciated it for exactly what it was, and I PROMISE - they have a lot of similar style brews to compare it to.
Certainly, some of my favorite beers are crazy hopped N.American IPA's - but I'll tell you - they're really not that hard to brew. I've judges the American IPA category at several homebrew competitions and - aside from a few exceptions - they are usually all pretty great - but often all remarkably similar (and many have enough alpha to strip paint).
Sometimes, the FUN beers are the ones you have to sit and think about. Really TEST your tastebuds and especially your nose. Learn something from your beer.
Incidentally, the Thunderstorm - which it sounds like Esprit is considering importing into Canada, is single-hopped with Progress. Who can tell me what this hop tastes like?
Two suggestions for you incurable IPA-addicts:
1. Buy a little bottle of hop-oil to carry around in your back pocket. No joke - they sell them at most homebrew supply stores and I know a few people who do this. When you need a quick fix, a few drops in a Labatt's will actually do the trick.
2. There are going to be plenty of crazy-hopped IPAs at the Buffalo Brewfest. I MEAN CRAZY. Hope to see you there...
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Kenmore, NY 14217
<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Lyle on 2001-08-15 08:43 ]</font>