Rocky Mountain Goodness in a Can

Some places just do not like glass bottles.  So, in order to bring some beer to my holiday weekend festivities I needed to stock up on canned beer.  The upside was that I “needed” to make a trip to the liquor store to peruse the aisles for something contained within aluminum that could whet my whistle.

Sure, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy was calling to my from 16 ounce cans in the cooler but I wanted something different.  With the heat approaching 90 degrees and the sun feeling like it was trying to melt my face off, an IPA or stout or other heavy beer style was off the table.

Breckenridge Brewery came to my rescue with two options in cans: Avalanche Ale and Summer Bright Ale.

Avalanche Ale is described as being an amber style:

Avalanche Ale

This style, along with different varieties of pale ale, is one of the hallmarks of the American craft beer movement.  A relatively light (4.4% ABV) and mild (19 IBU) Avalanche Ale drinks easily on a warm day without tasting like straw colored water.  One thing that I really appreciated about Avalanche Ale was the inclusion of Chinook hops which are quickly becoming my favorite variety in homebrews.

The great thing about the amber ale style is that it can accommodate so many variations across the beer spectrum.  There is lighter fare, like Avalanche Ale, and much more heavy fare, like some of the homebrews that my friends have shared where the alcohol is north of 7.0% ABV and the bitterness is approaching 70 IBU.  The key is that the malt really provides a structure for the brewmaster to make an imprint.

Summerbright Ale is another story:

Summerbright Ale

Reading the can after pulling one out of a slushy cooler with temps above 90 degrees I was ready for summertime perfection.  Instead, I was left with a totally lifeless beer.

I cannot really pinpoint what went wrong with Summerbright Ale because I think many things are off.  There is very little malt structure whatsoever.  Therefore, you are left with a beer that just flies off your palate in no time like a drink of cold water.  It’s really on par with the malt structure of your typical canned American light lagers you see guzzled by the caseload over the Fourth of July.

There is also no hop profile to speak of either.  I am not a “hop head” seeking out the most bitterness all the time, but beer needs to have a balance between malt and hops to provide flavor.  Summerbright Ale did not have any of this interplay and came across somewhat tasteless.

I would purchase Avalanche Ale again and avoid Summerbright Ale.

Speaking of the six-pack, I was really curious about the packaging:

Six Pack Rings

Made by PakTech these rings are made from #2 HDPE plastic, which is one of the two types of plastic that are readily recyclable.  However, comparing these rings with the traditional plastic “tape” style it seems like the newer rings are made from much more material.  Considering that a lot of plastic does not get recycled would it not be better to use the packaging with less material?

One nice feature, as pointed out by the makers of the handles, is that the fully enclosed top protects the drinking area of the can from dust and debris.  It seems like a pretty minor advantage considering that I can wipe off the top of the can pretty easily.

Apparently, I was not the only one wondering about this new version of the venerable six-pack.

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