THE HOPEFUL HOPSTER

Beer that shall not remain nameless

Posted April 19, 2011, at 5:40 p.m.

Dear naysayers, nitpickers, beer bullies and teasers,

I win! Despite your jokes and jabs directed toward my efforts to make a “girly” pomegranate-raspberry beer, the finished product is delicious, and I will have to do some soul-searching to decide whether I’ll be kind enough to give you a sample.

Drinking this beer is an experience in aroma and flavor. As you lift and tip the glass to take a sip, an odor jumps at your nose and screams “RASPBERRY,” and you taste raspberry even before the liquid touches your lips.

While the smell is great, it is so prominent that it covers up the flavor and aroma of the pomegranate concentrate I added before fermentation. When the beer first hits your tongue, it picks up a light sweetness and a tart undertone that you’d associate with raspberries.

What’s missing in the final product is a pomegranate flavor. It appears I didn’t add nearly enough pomegranate concentrate, which I’ll remedy next time, especially if the fruit is in season so I can use the real thing.

What I love about this brew is that, once its fruity bite fades away, the bitterness of the hops settles in. Many of the fruity beers I’ve had in the past almost lose their identity as beer because they’re so sweet. This one, however, retains its “beerness,” and has a great pilsneresque finish.

Now that I’ve had a taste — OK, lots of tastes — it’s time to announce the winner of the contest to name this brew.

The winner is (insert drum roll) Norma Wentworth of Millinocket with her suggestion: Spring It On.

In her email, Norma said she doesn’t drink beer, but enjoys reading The Hopeful Hopster. This is clear, seeing as her suggested name is a play on the words I use to end each column: Bring it on. Brew on. Just goes to show, brewing is for anybody — even those who don’t enjoy tipping back a cold one themselves.

Congratulations, Norma.

Now, for the next important matter: How much kick is Spring It On packing? It’s time to go back to our trusted equation.

Percent of alcohol by volume (ABV) equals 1.05 times (starting gravity minus final gravity) divided by final gravity, all  divided by 0.79 times 100.

ABV = (1.05 x (1.044 – 1.012) / 1.012) / 0.79 x 100.

That’s a touch more than 4 percent alcohol by volume. Admittedly, that’s a pretty darn weak beer, especially for my tastes. The cause for this mishap could be as simple as a hydrometer misreading or as complex as not using enough of the right types of fermentable sugars. More likely, it’s because I’m still relatively new at this brewing thing.

However, Spring It On is quite tasty, and that’s what you’re going for with a beer like this. Certainly, there is room to improve the recipe, I just have to figure out how and give it another go in a future brewing exploit.

In other beer-related news, a new business opened its doors in downtown Bangor this past weekend — Nocturnem Draft Haus, a bar largely dedicated to harder-to-find, harder-to-pronounce beers.

A large chalkboard hangs over the bar listing a dozen or so beers, about half of which I’d never heard of, so I picked the one that I thought had the coolest name — Ommegang’s Gnomegang. Note: I murdered the pronunciation, but the beer made an impression, so I’ll be sure to order it correctly next time.

Gnomegang was hoppy, sweet and about 9.5 percent alcohol. Ommegang is a Belgian-style brewer out of Cooperstown, N.Y., so it makes perfect sense that its beer has that sweet Belgian characteristic to it.

I look forward to making many more trips to Nocturnem and experiencing many more new brews.

Bring (or spring) it on. Brew on.

Nick McCrea is a Bangor Daily News copy editor. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maine and a master’s degree in magazine, newspaper and online journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. This occasional column chronicles his first endeavor at beer brewing.

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