Hilaritatem of the Month
As part of the Catholic culture experience that is the enjoyment of good drink, Veritatis Praeco is happy to provide occasional recommendations and reviews of good beers (wines and liquor may appear after a time, but for now, just beer, a beverage of rich Catholic history). This is mostly for the edification of the woefully underinformed, especially college students. If anyone has anything they would like to contribute – beer suggestions, histories, information on styles, or anything beer-pertinent – it is more than welcome!
Victory Hop Devil
Beverage: If you love IPAs (and you should), this would likely be the beer you marry. You could spend the rest of your life with the Hop Devil and never get tired of it. Pouring a nice amber color, everything about this beer is hops: smell, taste, finish—and repeat. The American whole flower hops push through the taste powerfully. The malts, imported from Germany and ordinarily used in beers, particularly IPAs, to balance out the hops, do nothing to reduce the intensity of their flavor, but instead focus it. Drink it, and you should understand. Veritatis Praeco highly recommends you drink this beer. If we had to choose one beer to drink every day, this would probably be it. Also, the label features a devil made out of hops; how cool is that?
The Brewery Ommegang’s Hennepin
Style: Properly planning your beer—when you drink whatever it is you are drinking, how you drink it, out of what glass, with what foods, so on and so forth—can be almost as important as the beer it is you are drinking. When you brew this is no exception: enter the farmhouse saison style. Brewed in the winter, these are beers meant for the summer; they are typically very complex, and though traditionally low in alcohol, many of the modern variants push the upper-mid ABV. As such, both because of their unique taste and their sometimes dangerous and deceptive alcohol levels, “saison” does not translate into “session.”
Beverage: One of the more popular saisons in America today, the Brewery Ommegang’s Hennepin, named after the Catholic priest who discovered Niagra Falls, is actually popular for good reason. Though not to be consumed with regularity (both for its taste and its ABV 7.5%—which cannot be tasted), the Hennepin teases your nose with a strong mix of coriander and honey, then hits your tongue with hops wrapped in citrus and ginger, making it a great beer on sweltering afternoons. Ideally, your Hennepin should be poured into a snifter, a wheat glass, or a tall imperial pint (e.g., an English pub glass or a Guinness glass), in order to unleash the subtler flavors of lemon, honey, and the biscuit dryness of the malts. Be careful not to agitate your bottle, as these fellows pour out a several inch-thick head in any situation. As August wanes, and autumn approaches, it is tempting to latch on to the last days of summer, to hold them up in a pinnacle of relative collegiate freedom (if you go to a real school; that is, one that holds you accountable). If you do latch on to such a day, try a Hennepin. Your senses will thank you, even if your wallet does not.
Beverage: Despite this being, whatever Al Gore thinks, one of the coolest Julys in recent memory, it is still summer and still hot. That means drinking something light, crisp, and refreshing. When we want to drink such beverages and maintain an all-day hilarity, there is no beer better for it than Pacifico. There is really nothing unique about the style; its flavor is a far cry from making you go, “Wow!” But what is special about the beer is that it is a lager and yet tastes good. Not amazing; but good, a crisp and refreshing feel, stronger hoppy tastes than the average lager; and with a low ABV (only about 4.5%), you can drink these all day and, unless you have a very low tolerance, never really become drunk. This makes them great for all-day cookouts, hanging out by your favorite swimming hole, working in your shop, or passing away those balmy summer nights. Find yourself a marachi band, if you can, and you’ll have two of Mexico’s best treasures.
Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier
Style: Like Pale Ales, “wheat beer” is a category which covers many subcategories. What we have here, in the Weihenstephaner, is a Weissbier, which is the standard from which all other wheat beers deviate. Rather than malted barley, it is brewed with malted wheat. It also has a high concentration of unfiltered yeast, which gives it the beautiful murky glow that beer lovers everywhere can recognize. Wheat beers are to be poured down the side of the glass at a medium pace, so as to build up a not-insignificant head (2-4 inches, depending on your serving size) in your wheat glass. The picture below is a good example.
Beverage: Normally, “old” and “beer” are two words we hate to hear in the same sentence. When it comes to Weihenstephaner’s Hefe Weissbier, however, old is good! Though the claim is disputed, there is a legimitate argument to the Weihenstephaner brewery, formerly attached to the Weihenstephan Abbey in Freising, being the oldest in the world. There is documentation to trace the brewery’s roots back to 768, and it was officially licensed by the state in 1040; old, gold, and delicious! Weissbier makes for an excellent summer drink, and the Weihenstephaner is the exemplar by which all others should be judged. Wheaty, yeasty, with touches of spices and fruit, this is the genetic designer baby of beers (forget superior human bodies – we want superior beers!). The beer starts and finishes strong, from the tip of your tongue to the contented bottom of your belly.
On a particularly Catholic note, Freising College, was the first teaching assignment of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who later returned as the Archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977-82. Though we could not find a picture of him enjoying Weihenstephaner (probably because the brewery was, sadly, taken over by the state, and we all know how His Holiness feels about socialism), here he is enjoying some form of Weissbier:
Bell’s Pale Ale
Style: Less intense than the hop-festivals that are IPAs, a Pale Ale is a beer you can go to any time of the year, a truly reliable friend! Though it is often considered a term applicable to many subcategories of beer, we like to distinguish the Pales from the Ambers and specialties such as Saisons. Deep golden to copper in color, Pale Ales are predominantely hoppy in flavor, but not overpoweringly.
Beverage: For a long time, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale was the best American Pale out there; but as Catholics, we cannot in any way, shape, or form, endorse those who support Planned Parenthood. Discovery of this fact saddened us greatly. Fortunately, Bell’s Pale Ale is a pretty darn good substitute. Both stronger and more complex than the Sierra Nevada, there is a nice balance of yeast, malts, and hops, with no one ingredient dominating the flavor, allowing the drinker – you – to experience something a little different in each sip. Plus, with a low ABV (5%), you can enjoy plenty and not exceed that point of hilarity. Finally, check out that logo!
The Dogfish Head 60 Minute Ipa
Style: India Pale Ales, or IPAs, are a style developed in the 18th century by the British, who were seeking to preserve their pale ales on the long boat-trips to Inida. To do this, more hops and alcohol were added, the former to preserve the latter, which acts as an anti-bacterial agent. Though born across the pond, the IPA has become the signature style of many American microbrewers. IPAs are typically very hoppy in flavor, copper or light amber in color, and with strong bitter flavors. They are best consumed at moderate temperatures (roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit), poured down the side of the glass with a thin head, roughly one finger-width.
Beverage: Since most good alcoholic beverages require an acquired taste, we start off with a lighter brew, one to which the inexperienced drinker can easily adjust. Dogfish Head, craft brewers in Delware, produce 8 year-round beverages and numerous occasionals and seasonals. The 60 minute IPA is what could be considered their standard, having a medium alcohol by volume percentage (6% ABV), a hoppy flavor that is not overpowering, scents of citrus and pine, and tastes of citrus, primarily orange.