Eagle Rock Brewery – Women’s Beer Forum

On Wednesday night, I went to Eagle Rock Brewery’s first ever Women’s Specific Beer Forum hosted by Ting Su.  The turn out was fantastic, about 50 women from my count.  It shouldn’t really be a surprise that there are many gals that enjoy a good brew.  We are the original home brewers, not just in Europe but archaeologists [1] have found evidence that women probably were the brewers from Mesopotamian and Incan[2] societies.

For this inaugural meeting, Ting chose “Fru-Fru” beers – fruit beers – as the topic. I thought it was a great way to bring in women that are not yet in love with beer, however, the samples we tried were not overly fruity and interesting enough to be enjoyed by the seasoned aficionado.  I myself fall somewhere in the middle of these two categories, a casual enthusiast is a good way to put it. The evening’s flight consisted of 4 beers, tasted in this order: Unibroue’s Ephemere Apple, Eagle Rock Brewery’s Limbo, Dogfish Head’s Aprihop, and Maui Brewing Co.’s CoCoNut Porter. Ting introduced each beer with a brief explanation of what went into making it, had a question and answer period, then enjoyed the rest of our glass while discussing our thoughts with our fellow participants.

The Ephemere Apple is a white ale with a crisp, sweet taste.  I’m a sucker for white ales; Ephemere Apple ended up being my favorite beer of the four. Apples were the prominent flavor, but I also tasted a bit of the nutmeg that Ting mentioned in her description. I asked her what the deal was with green apples. I’ve always heard that green apples = infection = bad and was never sure why my favorite type of apple got such a bad wrap.  She explained that in this case, the flavor is present because apples are an adjunct, meaning they were added during the brewing process rather than developing because the yeast, malt or hops contain these qualities or due to infection.  Apple flavor born of infection has a couple of problems, 1) the beer won’t taste that way for any length of time – as the infection grows it will become a more dominant flavor and it just won’t taste the same any more and 2) good luck replicating it.

Ting also explained that while beer styles have certain expected characteristics, if you like the way something tastes, then style be damned! Drink what you enjoy!  Sorry BJCP Judge John.

The second beer in the line up was Eagle Rock’s own Limbo, the only beer of the night without a fruit adjunct.  It’s a summer saison made with citra hops and has the typical barn yard flavor with some citrus and tart tastes.  The description said there should be hints of mango, but that was lost on me.  I like Limbo, but for me it’s a beer best enjoyed in small servings, I wouldn’t want much more than the 4 oz pour.

Next up: Dogfish Head’s Aprihop, and IPA with adjunct apricots – get it!? The apricot flavor was very subtle, almost over powered by the hops. I generally don’t enjoy beers that are heavy on the hop flavor, and that was pretty much the case with Aprihop.  I’m more of a yeast and malt kinda gal (insert crude joke here), which is why I sometimes feel like the microbrew scene is passing me by. It’s so popular to have a crazy-prominent hop flavor in beer right now.

The last beer of the night was the CoCoNut Porter.  It had a slightly sweet roasted flavor (yay malt!) and I could taste the coconut adjunct way in the background.  I think ladies should give porters and stouts an honest try. Sure they look scary: a brown-black beastie beer with a tan head but looks can be deceiving and by-in-large they’re actually sweet.  IPAs, on the other hand, look innocent with their pale yellow color but then they sucker punch you in the mouth with their bitter brass knuckles.  The porter came in as a solid second favorite this night.  An interesting side note, this was the only beer of the forum poured out of a can.  Why cans?  I guess in a lot of ways they make sense. If Maui Brewing Co. is going to have a customers outside of Hawaii they’ll need to ship they’re beer a long distance, which isn’t cheap and cans are lighter so its helps their bottom line. Also, light is bad for beer and cans eliminate that problem totally (I can’t answer why we use clear glass carboys in homebrewing, other than its fun to look at the beer do its thing).

I had a lot of fun at Eagle Rock’s Women’s Specific Beer Forum. I met a couple of really nice women (hi Wendy, aka @3shotlatte, and Susie!) and got to try some new tasty beers.  I think this is a great setting for women who are knowledgeable about beer and want to have thoughtful conversation with others who share their interest as well as women who aren’t too sure about beer who want to ask questions and try things out in an approachable setting.  Congrats to Ting for a great opening night! I’m already looking forward to next month’s meeting.

[1] http://articles.sfgate.com/1998-05-16/news/17720861_1_local-breweries-beer-plymouth-rock
[2] http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10043096/ns/technology_and_science-science/

– Steph M.R.

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