Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Angling for an authentic ale

I look forward to the day that it'll be warm enough to do some fishing without poking a hole through a thick layer of ice. Not that I've done any ice fishing since I was a little kid. What I'm looking forward to is warmer weather. So, with the thought of warmer days, I've popped open an Arcadia Angler's Ale from Arcadia Brewing Company of Battle Creek, Michigan.

According to the brewery's website, the Arcadia Brewing Company was established in 1996 as a microbrewery specializing in hand-crafted British-style ales. All of the beers are produced in small 25-barrel batches. The brewery makes notes of their "Peter Austin" brewing system, which appears to have just as much to do with the process as the equipment. This excellent article by Matt Dunn gives a pretty good description of the brewery and the process, including pictures. Arcadia is definitely interested in applying British methods of producing beer tailored to American tastes.

So out of this brewery comes Angler's ale, which greets me with rather loud and long "phffft" when the cap is popped. What comes out of the bottle is a hazy golden to light amber ale with two-thirds of my glass filling up with foam. As the foam settles down I top off the pour in stops and starts, then let the beer sit. After at least 10 minutes, the foam has left a rocky head and I go in for a sniff, which is very fruity and perhaps a touch floral. Could it be that Ringwood yeast that Matt Dunn makes mention of in the previously cited article? This same fruity character is found on the palate, too. I'm thinking of a bit of apricot, but more of orange and a maybe just a touch of green apple. The hops may be contributing some of these flavors, too. Judging from the haziness, the Angler's Ale is definitely a bottle-conditioned brew. In fact, bits of yeast seem to have rested at the bottom of my glass. Nearly all the way through my glass of this beer I notice that much of the foam has stuck to sides of the glass in almost crystalline fashion. As I finish this beer I start to contemplate what it would be like to enjoy it off a cask, as I'm almost certain is likely to happen at the Arcadia pub in Battle Creek. I may finally have to visit this brewery to find out for myself how good Arcadia ales can taste.

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