leave your inhibitions at the door
Last Monday, when you were probably cursing at your alarm clock for putting an abrupt end to your weekend, many Michiganders awoke to news that brought a giant smile to their faces. It wasn’t news of Apple, Boeing, or some other mega company moving headquarters to the Mitten State to end it’s long economic decline. It wasn’t news that the Detroit Lions happened to get the first 5 picks of the NFL draft (not that they’d know what to do with them). And it wasn’t confirmation that the mullet is back in style – as many of this state’s citizens believe it never went out.
Nope, last Monday was the official 2012 release of Bell’s Oberon Ale. I guess the best way to describe the phenomenon is that it’s an American version of France’s Beaujolais Nouveau day. That’s the 3rd Thursday in November when Beaujolais Nouveau (the wine) is released to huge parties and celebrations. The giddiness has reached our shores as well – a family friend used to get one of the first cases that came over on the Concorde. It’s an unofficial national holiday in France, but one that’s more marketing than it is tradition. Oberon release day has an organic, grassroots feel to it.
And while Beaujolais Nouveau is nothing more than glorified Hawaiian Punch, Oberon is actually… good. According to one expert, it’s officially a smooth wheat ale with citrus notes and a floral, hoppy aroma, traditionally enjoyed with an orange slice but perfectly fine without it. But that’s like calling the Mona Lisa a nice picture of some Italian chick.
To me, it’s summer in a bottle. One sip evokes driving around in our convertible, the beach, shorts & t-shirts, and endless nights. I’d say it’s a lot like baseball – but only if I actually gave a rat’s ass about baseball. Musically it’s like Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”, Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime”, and the collected works of the Beach Boys all wrapped into one.
I just picked up a six-pack at Whole Foods and saw a little sticker giving it 98 points from some beer geek website. Guyism.com just recently posted pictures of haikus written on napkins in praise of Oberon. My favorite –
But is it actually good? Am I just praising it because I love summer soooooo much? No better way to answer that than to have one… It was a beautiful honey blonde color with orange hues, hazy like all wheat beers, but not completely opaque. On the nose, I got a ton of citrus and floral notes with hints of spice. Occasionally, some banana aroma came through. The taste was exactly as I remember it to be – well balanced between the citrus and slight sweetness. As for mouthfeel, it was velvety and creamy, yet very crisp on the finish. Yup, it’s summer. Time to get the Speedo.
So what signals summer to you? Is it just a calendar date or is there something else? What’s your favorite summer song?