Three very different beers

Chevy Impola

I got very thirsty reading last week about Eric Hanson, head brewer at Utepils, and how he talked up his Ewald the Golden hefeweizen.

It was a hot day and a tall, cold hefe sounded like just the ticket. Hefeweizen, to my mind, is the ultimate summer beer.

I easily tracked down a four-pack of Ewald the Golden and thirstily headed home, in what turned out to be a futile search for my hefeweizen glass.  What the heck happened to that thing? I do recall my neighbor Frank coveting it when he was here last. He’s a Germanophile. Maybe he just had to have my Franziskaner glass.  Oh, well, most likely it will just show up the same way it disappeared.

There really is something beautiful about drinking a lively, spicy, white-headed weiss in its special 24.7 ounce glass. There’s nothing better on a sunny summer afternoon. It gives the illusion of perfection, a bright, shining, luxurious moment that exists between you and a  beautiful glass of hefewiezen. Time seems to stop, or at least slow down some.

On a sidenote, don’t ask me about lemon and hefeweizen. I’ve done it both ways. Do it how you like it. For me, it depends. Mostly, no, I just want the beer. But it’s also not a bad way to get a nice injection of lemony goodness. The flavors meld well. So, no rules for me on how to drink your hefeweizen.

However, Ewald the Golden is a rich and satisfying hefe. And, yeah, I don’t think I’d stick a lemon in this one.

Here’s another mystery. I found this next beer in my fridge but don’t know how it got there. Maybe Frank felt guilty about stealing my hefeweizen glass so snuck a bottle of Friek in my fridge.

And Friek is right. Yowzer! This is one pucker-producing sour ale. Friek!
The name is a merger of the names of two kinds of sour ale – kriek (cherry) and framboise (raspberry), hence Friek!

As you might expect, this is a very red beer.

It begins life as a traditional kriek (sour cherry ale). After up to two years aging in oak barrels, fresh local raspberries are added.

Did I mention this is a very sour beer? At the moment I can only see from one eye because the other one is puckered up with the intense sourness. It’s shockingly sour.
I love it. Framboise and kriek all in one bottle.

O’Dell Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colo., is the brewer of this tremendous sour. Be prepared for a swift kick in the ghoulies with this powerful sour.

And, last but not least, I saw this sitting on a gas station beer shelf and had to try it. I recall when the flagship beer from this Belgian brewer first made it to these shores and I praised Stella Artois in a beer column I was doing at the time. It prompted a Euro-bully to email and question my sanity for praising what he called the “Budweiser of Europe.” What he did not understand is that at the time (this was some time ago), there were not many craft breweries devoted to producing good lagers, and for a lager-loving fellow such as myself, I had invested my faith in lagers in the Euro-breweries, such as the original Budweiser in the city of Ceske-Budejovice in the Czech Republic and, yes, the newly-arrived-to-these-shores Stella Artois.

(On a side note, today Stella is owned by Interbrew, which is a subsidiary of the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev.)

Well, things have changed significantly since Stella Artois made its way to these shores some time around the turn of the century. Today there is plenty of great lagers to choose from.

Still, when I see a six-pack of dark lager called Midnight, brewed by Stella, well, count me in.

If you like a good dark lager with hints of chocolate and coffee playing in the background, check out Midnight Lager. It’s a mighty good dark lager (if I had to choose my favorite dark lager, it would be the dark lager made by the originalBudweiser in the aforementioned Ceske Budejovice – it’s known as Czechvar in this country, but they do not sell the dark lager here. It’s big in Finland, I hear.)