Awwww, snap. The 100s are back again, even as I stare out of my office window into the cloudy expanse of Central Texas.
Texas, during the blight of summer, has a way of being both the folksy graybeard and the wily scoundrel who will comfort you with a sympathetic sunrise/sunset fable but then assassinate your spirit with death rays during the daylight hours. For those of us who believe that you can't drink all day unless you start in the morning, its a bit of an affair matching body, flavor, and ABV profiles across a 30° spectrum.
Lately, breweries in Texas are becoming much more adept at negotiating that precarious temperature range to a single beer vessel, making trips to the liquor store much more efficient and convenient than it was even two or three years ago. It was always Lone Star for the daytime, and Shiner for nights -- and screw you if you hadn't thought ahead to supply yourself with that continuum, because one would rather die than drink a heavily-malted body when there is a chance that a single sliver of sun could infect your immediate environment.
But there is a place that has dealt with a similar boozing problem during the summer rattle -- and possibly on an even more severe plane of temperature discrepancy than those of us in Texas experience -- that is the Midwest.
This week, the average temperatures in Chicago are projected to be as high as 89° and as low as 52°. While that is boner-inducing here in Silicon Hells, that is one moody-bitch-of-a-forecast. The secondary effects of such a phenomenon is that Midwest brewers have the touch of artistry when fabricating a beer appropriate for both temperature flanks, and that is displayed most triumphantly in their homegrown IPAs.
I'm often mentioning my undying,
zombie-love for Midwestern IPAs and that is because these brewers have provided for both form AND function, a creativity that West Coast brewers neglected to emphasize (or maybe just emphasizing a different form/function).
Either way, since I spend my summers in Northern Michigan, and not San
Diego, it is easy to fall in love with their philosophy.
One of my favorite beers -- not only in the Midwest, not only in summertime -- but anytime, anywhere, is Two Hearted IPA by Bell's Brewing. This is a beer so cognizant, so evolutionary, so accomplished, it makes The
Most Interesting Dos XXs In The World seem like a squirt of Octomom's amniotic fluid. At one point, it was rated the second best beer in the USA -- whatever that means -- by the journal of the American Homebrewers Association.
What you get from Two Hearted is the most perfect blend of hops and malt, interspersed with ripe, small-garden fruit and long peels of citrus. It is truly one of the only beers that can compliment great Texas BBQ as well as -- well, nothing -- not even Lone Star or Shiner Bock. And at a nice ABV point, it compliments the delirium of J. Mueller's or Franklin with a nice, smooth buzz.
If you don't feel like drinking a Big Red soda the way God intended BBQ to be paired, well, I hope you have access to Two Hearted Ale.
Acquired: Didi's Beverage