Summer is winding down, but drinking is ramping up! As these California days are getting hotter and hotter, I find myself with more and more excuses to have a crisp, refreshing beer anytime of the day on the weekends and many evenings during the week. So, how did I chose what to drink this month for my blog? I let fate decide. And sure enough, the day before I chose to drink this month's test beer, a package from good ol' Elise Oras showed up at my doorstep carrying some tasty Michigan brews!
Sometimes I think that all these different beers are going to just end up blurring into one another. With the increasing variety of beers from all over the country and my disturbing desire to have them all, I begin to wonder if I'll ever tire from IPA after IPA or 2 year barrel aged beers versus 3 year ones. There has to be some ceiling, some limit to what my palate finds interesting. Thankfully, Short's ControversiALE, wasn't that limit. I had no idea just what type of beer this was when Elise told me she was sending it. All I knew was that Short's Brewing has a good reputation in the mid-west and makes cleverly titled beers like Short's Strawberry Cake and Key Lime Pie. So when I opened my first bottle of this toasted IPA, I was definitely taken aback by the uniqueness in flavor. See, all that writing on the bottle says nothing of this being toasted. And the notion of a toasted IPA, while logical, never occurred to me. I always associate roasty, burnt flavors with that of stouts, porters, even lagers. IPAs always come across more fruity and fresh in my mind. ControversiALE had an earthy taste to it, almost even going so far as to say it tasted like dirt was included. But not the scary, shit dirt. No, more like the nutrient-rich expensive dirt that is made from expensive composted materials. Because although dirt came to mind, I had no problem whatsoever in plowing through bottle #1 and straight into bottle #2.
With Short's ControversiALE, I knew heading into this session that I had the option to max out on volume consumption. Having a 6-pack at the ready and coming in at a relatively low 5.5% abv, I was fairly certain that it'd be no problem having four of these in one night. As with most of my drinking, I chose to do so while watching two people enter a cage and try to knock out or submit one another. Thinking that I'd be able to pace myself and have 1 beer per fight, I inadvertently ended up in quite the quandary when each fight ended in spectacularly brutal fashion. As submission followed knockout, I found myself only just finished with the 2nd bottle and the main event starting. Thankfully, main events are five rounds and can last as long as 30 minutes all inclusive. So as I opened the 3rd bottle with nary a buzz and the bell rang for the opening round, I barely got two sips in when the champion Ronda Rousey nearly tore off the arm of her opponent in under a minute. So much for that plan. Regardless, I continued to polish off the 3rd bottle while watching the replays and highlights. Perhaps the fact that I finished number three so quickly helped both what little buzz I was accumulating build as well as enhance my enjoyment of the beer. Being lower in alcohol allowed my palate (and stomach) to stay in check and finish up all four beers with the perfect amount of alcoholic imbibement for the night.
Summer is Los Angeles is a tricky time of year. Certain days can be overcast and cloudy until well past noon. Others can reach 90 degrees before breakfast is ready. Oftentimes, that heat can make all the difference in how I handle hangovers. If I can sleep in and not sweat balls the instant that I wake, my body will often heal from the poison I so thoroughly filled it with the night before. However, if I am woken early by a blinding sun and forced into manual labor in the dry dragon's breath, then it's likely that my body shall punish me for the pains I put it through. Thankfully, ControversiALE seemed to be low enough in abv and made from ingredients that agreed with my physiology. Because while my Sunday morning began with the worst of temperate scenarios, my body showed little signs of fighting the alcohol still lingering inside me. Aside from a mild headache and fatigue, all systems were go and I was totally functional throughout the day. I was very grateful to have received a 6-pack of this beer. Not only did it provide me a chance to try a beer otherwise unavailable to me, but (as with all 6-packs I drink for this blog) it gave the gift of extras to enjoy at a later date. The date for ControversiALE however, was less than 24 hours later as I had both after a hot day tending to the yard.
Another experiment, another success. It shouldn't surprise me that Short's ControversiALE passed my tests with flying colors. A variation on the traditional IPA with a pretty low abv has little chance of messing with me too much. However, instance like Lagunitas Censored Ale have proven that theory to be wrong on occasion. While I appreciated the chance to have this beer and am glad to have tried an IPA with a toasted base recipe, I'm also okay with ControversiALE not currently being offered around these parts. Sure, if I saw it on the shelves, I'd probably buy it again eventually. But with so many different options these days, it'd likely get lost in the shuffle of other offerings. That said though, for anyone who does have access to this beer who has not yet tried it, I implore you to give it a try. You might just find that that toasted IPA style is your new favorite.