On Monday, the United States of America inaugurated Barack Hussein Obama for a second term. What does this mean for beer lovers? Will Obama ignore the progress he’s made on the homebrew and craft brew fronts? Or will he advance with a new, ambitious agenda to match the unprecedented expansion of these noble crafts, most interestingly in the battleground states of Colorado and North Carolina?
Following typical Beltway punditry, I’ll prognosticate that, based on his previous term, President Obama will continue his support for good beer. After all, this was the President who brewed official White House Honey Ale and Porter.
All this lowly beer pundit can say is: Quad more years! Quad more years!
In that vein, let’s examine some quads, short for quadrupel. The style originated in Belgium and is based on a strong, bold style brewed by the Trappist monks. Its forbearers are the tripel and dubbel styles. The quad takes the strength of the tripel, borrows the dark style of the dubbel, and kicks it up a notch.
Sound good? Well it is.
In my careful sociological observations of the typical CC beer drinker, I’ve concluded that there is a pattern that follows another four-year cycle. CC students come to CC with some, but mainly no beer knowledge and proceed to OD (in the not an actual OD sense) on cheap, abundant major brands. That’s your Buds, Millers, Coors, and since this is CC, PBRs. Yet, as CC instills (and distills) our critical thinking abilities, our palettes refine similarly. Usually, by the end of the sophomore year, bloated CC students look into the craft brew scene. Weber Liquors’ formerly narrow aisles widen as sixers, four packs, and bombers come into the beer aspirant’s view.
A sense of intrigue and adventure accompanies the fresh world of not-shit beer. The beer aspirant starts off small, buying something light, pale, and unassuming. After tackling the first rung, the aspirant moves to darker beers: porters, stouts…perhaps even a double black IPA. Somewhere in here, they’ll goes through their IPA stage, where anything less bitter than a Stone Ruination isn’t worth a second look. Then, by the end of junior year, the beer drinker looks wistfully back to his roots in the ambers, lagers, and other ales and asks if there are more sophisticated or stronger versions of the beers he once downed by the pitcher.
Dubbels, tripels, and quads are for those wayward explorers.
Over break, I visited a fancy, overpriced Belgian gastro-pub in my hometown. The Mussel Bar in Bethesda, MD specializes in imports, mainly from Belgium. (The off-putting spelling of quadrupel, tripel, and dubbel derive from that confused bilingual country.) In an attempt to impress my high school friend with my new go-to style, I ordered a De Landtsheer Malheur 12. The beer has a sweet malt and slight hoppiness. It’s bready and the alcohol, though carefully masked, firmly maintains its presence. The proportions of the beer meld quite well. As it seems with all breweries in Belgium, De Landtsheer is brewed by an overly experienced craftsman (fifth-generation to be exact). During both world wars, the Germans confiscated his family’s kettles; I’m happy they persevered.
Next I ordered an Ayinger Celebrator doppelbock. I’ve already written about Ayinger so I won’t waste more words here. The doppelbock is another strong style. They have lots of malt and may be very dark. The Celebrator follows the mold with a certain spice to accent the notes of chocolate, smidge of hop, medium molasses, and whiffs of caramel. The beer slides down the gullet with a strong creaminess. It’s hands down one of the best brews out there.
The last beer is dedicated to the First Lady and President Obama. The Apis IV, from Elevation Beer, proudly proclaims its honey’s character on its label. A neat and useful part of the label explains the hops and malts used in addition to food pairing suggestions. It basically does my job for me.
The beer pours out into a beautiful dark honey/golden amber hue. Even though the beer is 10.7% ABV, it goes down with little notice of the alcohol. Due to the generous honey addition, it’s sweet with a full body of toasted malt and caramel. It is the medium body in the mouth with an even carbonation that prevents the malt from developing a thick viscosity on the tongue. It’s very well balanced and suits the late summer rather than the more bready winter quads. While it’s an overall good beer, I feel obligated to tell my faithful readers that it’s not amazing and other quads are worth discovering first (e.g. The Reverend from Avery).
Perhaps the Obamas, as they approach a new four-year cycle, will decide to expand their beer horizons and contribute to the world of quadrupels. One can only hope.