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It’s the end of January and most folks I have talked to are still working on their New Year resolutions of losing weight and staying fit or eating better. I thought this would be no better time to tell you about my resolution…of drinking better! Clean eating is great, but usually doesn’t involve chocolate cake or ice cream so I find it extremely difficult. Clean drinking however, might just be right up my alley.
I decided to sample one of the many organic beers we have at Orchard Fresh. Organic is a big part of what we try to do here at the store. If you’ve shopped our beer section, you’ll notice there is no big brewery offerings like Budwiser or Labatt. We choose to focus on small, craft beers instead and the section we are most proud of would be our organic beers. Organic beers use only organic ingredients, and have not been subjected to pesticides or other additives or preservatives. In my opinion, this is the way beer was meant to be brewed and tasted. Drinking organic has a certain nostalgia to it. It feels like I’m drinking beer from colonial times or even before that.
With that feeling in mind I decided to try a Samuel Smith’s Ale. The bottle alone will tell you this beer is a product of England and is brewed in the old fashioned tradition. I did some research on the brewery and found some amazing facts. Samuel Smith’s is located in North Yorkshire in Northern England. The Old Brewery, as it is called, opened in 1758 and began brewing Ale’s with the help of a steam engine that powered most of the brewing equipment. Those processes are still in place to this day as a steam engine powers the milling process in the brewery. In fact, there is still a stable of horses located on site at the brewery that deliver the beers to local pubs.
I decided I would try the Organic Strawberry Ale. My first question, as usual, was what exactly is ale? Ale is a term now used to describe beer made with warm fermentation (by warm I mean room temperature, lager’s are cold fermented while ale’s are fermented at room temperature). Ale’s are made from malted barley and use special yeasts to ferment and make alcohol. These yeasts are sweeter and fruitier than lager yeasts. Ale’s were brewed so purely that hops were needed to preserve the beer and keep it from spoiling. This not only allowed for further distribution, but the hops also gave a bitter taste to the ale that many people enjoyed.
This is where Samuel Smith’s introduces it’s organic fruit. In place of hops, organically grown, pure fruit juices are added to the ale to enhance the fruitiness of the yeast. All of the brewing processes are done manually and the quality that results is very evident.
To begin the rich red color of this beer was definitely unique. Even the head on the beer had a red hue to it. It reminded me of using green dye on St. Patrick’s Day – the color was everywhere and it was probably going to stain my teeth. The aroma was fantastic. The smell of fresh strawberries was very strong. I could tell already this was going to be a great dessert beer.
Right from the first sip I could taste how light this beer was. Clean, crisp and refreshing would come to mind first. It was very strongly carbonated, giving it an almost champagne-like taste. It would be great as a palate cleanser. The strawberry flavor, however, was delicious. Extremely sweet and clean, it instantly reminded me of summer when strawberries are in season. I pictured myself enjoying this on a hot night, or after a long day in the sun. (Trust me, it was nice to envision a summer day when I noticed the actual temperature outside was under 10!)
This beer was obviously a sweet beer, meant to be enjoyed on its own. Not sure I would pair it with a dinner or appetizer; I think it would do nicely as a follow up to dinner. I realty enjoyed it and would recommend it. The organic ingredients really came through and I can see why people prefer to drink organically. The flavors were more intense than I was used to. The cool label and all that I learned about the history of the brewery really made this an interesting choice for me. It really was a taste of how things used to be.
Thanks for reading!