“Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
So here is the deal my friends, there is nothing better on a summer Friday afternoon, than coming home, kicking back on the porch and having a nice cold beer.
I haven’t blogged about it much, but myself and the Boy in the past year or so have really enjoyed learning about and tasting craft beer. We’ve tried more styles and more beers than we can count, the Boy has actually started brewing, and it’s become one of our favorite games to hunt down beers we haven’t had and give them a spin.
All of that said, craft beer is delicious but it can be expensive. Hence, Beer on a Budget. Now that I am in law school and living off of money that is not mine, I haven’t really been allowing myself to indulge in my favorites. During school, with all the traveling, it made sense, but this summer I thought it would be fun to allow myself to once a week, hunt down the sales on craft beer and introduce the flavor of the week.
I feel like most people just pick up what they see in the grocery store, because it’s cheap and they know what they’re getting, which is exactly what I used to do. With Beer on a Budget, I hope to introduce you to new breweries, new styles, and new favorites, all without breaking the bank. It’s a beer you can afford to grab a six pack of, invite friends over and savor those summer nights with.
The Boy is the real expert on craft beer, and although I don’t know as much yet, I have absolutely loved learning about it with him. The craft beer industry is as interesting and colorful as the beers they create. So while introducing you to what’s in my frosted glass on a given week, I hope to learn along with you. And hopefully, those who are much better versed in the craft beer industry will chime in and give their take. So, without further ado, week 1 of Beer on a Budget, featuring Schlafly APA.
The first time I had Schlafly APA was at one of my favorite watering holes in Nashville, 12th South Taproom. It was on draft and it was love at first sip.
It was not long before that I was first introduced to Bell’s Hopslam, a double IPA that was sweet as honey and just seemed to melt in your mouth. The Boy and I got it by the case because we quickly learned that people traveled across state lines every winter when this delicacy came out to stock up. After tasting it, I knew why. Since having Hopslam though, I hadn’t had anything that resembled that delicate citrus or floral flavor, until I was introduced to Schlafly APA.
As I said, I am not an expert, but to me, this year-round American Pale Ale from St. Louis seemed to be my solution for the spring, summer and fall while Hopslam was not on the shelves. Although Hopslam is a Double India Pale Ale and Schlafly is an American Pale Ale, even untrained tastebuds like mine were drawn to the subtle similarities in both. There was something I liked there.
A couple of weeks later however, when I ordered a bottle of Schlafly APA somewhere else and I was greeted with a much more bitter taste. That was not what I remembered. I was so disappointed. Since, I have been a bit skittish about purchasing it.
Last Friday however, on my way home from work, I stopped at Cork ‘n Bottle, one of my favorite places to find good beer here on my side of the river. They have amazing specials and I had seen them tweet earlier that Schlafly 6-packs were on sale for $6.99. You can’t beat that for craft beer people. So of course I went over. I had intended to try a different style but the APA was staring me in the face and heck, I’m all for second chances. Remembering a conversation I had with the Boy, I decided to see if I could find the bottled by date to see how fresh it is. Yes, I like you, didn’t know that mattered for beer but turns out it does. Oh the things I’m learning!
Cork ‘n Bottle receives a fresh shipment of Schlafly weekly and I was assured it was one of the freshest beers on their shelves, as was witnessed by the bottling date.
As soon as I took it home and popped open the bottle, I knew this was the beer I remembered from the porch of 12th South. It was fresh, citrusy, hoppy, and had just the right amount of bitterness. This was just what I had wanted and at a bargain price! At 5.9%, this is the perfect beer for those summer nights with friends, cookouts and neighborhood parties in the park.
As my ancestors in Italy would say, Cin-Cin, or to your health! And your wallet as well in this instance!
What I’ve learned about American Pale Ale (APA):
Many consider APA’s the bolder and hoppier American cousin of traditional English Pale Ales. APA, a style that was pioneered by the likes of Sierra Nevada, is normally crisper and generally more hoppy than the typical India Pale Ale (IPA) and has a distinct American hop character.
Schlafly APA for example is dry hopped with whole cone American hops including Cascade, Chinook and Athanum hops. Dry hopping, as I’m learning, is a process where hops are added after fermentation and are left to soak, in Schlafly’s case, for 7 days. This significantly increases the hop character of both the aroma and flavor of the beer without increasing the bitterness.
This process, used by both Schlafly and Bells, adds that delicate floral and citrusy taste that I love. When buying an APA, I would suggest looking at the bottled date because in this case, the fresher the better!