During this year’s Baltimore Beer Week, Andrea and I attended a ladies’ only event held at Max’s Taphouse, one of my favorite bars in Baltimore. The event was sponsored by Baltimore Beer Babes, and was a tasting of the Mikkeller Yeast Series 2.0. This series of beers allows you to very clearly experience the difference that the choice of yeast can make. The base beer is exactly the same for each of the six brews, so the yeast (and resulting requirements for fermentation time and temperature) are the only variable that changes. In the case of the 2.0 series (their second) the base is a pale ale, which I thought was a mite hoppy for this, but it worked out just fine.
We tasted four of the six 2.0 series beers – the lager, English ale, saison and Brettanomyces Lambicus – and the Hefewizen from their 1.0 series. We were also given a pour of Hoffbrau at that point, so we had a more classic hefeweizen to compare.
Unsurprisingly for this fan of saisons, that was my favorite of the group, followed closely by the hefeweizen. I did like the lambic – I have trouble getting past the aroma on those sometimes, it is such a funky, earthy, sour smell – but what really struck me was sort of an “oh, duh” moment in retrospect. It is super easy to identify that strain of yeast with just a sniff.
In addition to the flavor changes, this was a good reminder of how much the temperature a beer is served at will really change the flavor. I didn’t much like the lager at first, but as it sat, it came up to temperature and really opened up, and was a very different beer. This is a thing I know and have noticed before, but haven’t really taken much action on. It’s not practical for me to remove every beer I want to drink from the fridge 15-30 minutes before I want to drink it, but I think I’ll have to be more aware of this with higher end brews, or if I’m really deliberately trying to pair something with dinner.
We also got to taste two homebrews from two of the Beer Babes founding members – a berliner weisse, which I admit I was not all that fond of, and then a really good rye pale ale.
I had never done a guided beer tasting like this before, and it was such a great learning experience for my palate. I hope to see more of these types of events popping up. Tap takeovers and in-store tastings are great, but this is a whole other animal. If you ever get a chance to do a yeast series tasting in particular, do it!