Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Warbird: Fortunately, not "wet air" superiority.

I am eternally amused by the disparities between macho culture (musky – very musky) and beer flavor (fine as long as there isn’t any), and merrily refer to these incongruities from time to time.

… the funniest of all are the gargantuan, tattooed, macho, leather-encased motorcycle riders who are the bar-none toughest guys around – but can’t manage to choke down a beer that tastes any stronger than the Silver Bullet and its color-coded coldness gauge.

So you can imagine my trepidation when given four sample bottles of beer from Warbird Brewing in Ft. Wayne, Indiana – each with an American military airplane on the label, and the lot of them described on the brewery's web site by M*A*S*H-style stenciling as the “world’s most drinkable craft beer.”

Nothing against my brewing brethren up north -- please read all the way to the end before accusing me of negativity – but militarism (ours or another's) simply isn’t a marketing strategy designed to attract my loyalty. After all, I’m the card-carrying contrarian who feels that the military air show at Louisville’s annual “Thunder over Louisville” fireworks display is fascistic in nature.

Furthermore, “drinkable” is a notorious code word in craft brewing circles, and generally implies “tasteless” by another name.

It turns out that my low expectations were unmerited. I drank Warbird’s beers, and as they say in sports when a heavy underdog beats the overwhelming favorite, that’s why they bother playing the games.

Only one, Gold Ale, can truly be referred to as “drinkable” to the point of insipid. Why bother apart from the cute airplane? Mass-market beers are less expensive, although in fairness, there was a note or two that suggested Kolsch without the fruitiness native to the style.

But two others, Pale Ale and Red Ale, fit comfortably within stylistic parameters, with a touch of pleasant hop bitterness intruding into the former, and a toasty sweetness characterizing the latter. Clean, with adequate flavor. Good sessions stuff.

The biggest surprise is Warbird’s Wheat, which (Hallelujah!) actually is brewed with Bavarian yeast rather than house ale yeast, and boasts the expected bananas and cloves. Quite tasty, actually. I notice that Bluegrass Brewing (Main and Clay) in Louisville also is brewing a German-style Hefeweizen as a seasonal. Let’s hope these two developments constitute a trend, because there’s nothing more “drinkable” (i.e., tasteless) than microbrewed American-style wheat.

Me? I’m waiting for Warbird’s B-52 seasonal barley wine.


blindhippie said...

I got a good chuckle at my local brewpub when this business dude sat next to me with his buddy and started talking sports and stuff. He asked the bartender for their "lightest beer." When they gave him a golden ale, he commented on how "pretty" the glass was. "Just call me Nancy," he joked. Well, don't order a Nancy beer and you won't get a Nancy glass, Nancy!

antzman said...

I met the brewmaster of warbird a few months ago, and he actually did talk about coming out with a series of bombers (22 oz variety) of some bigger beers. He talked about several WWII era bombers (B-17, Liberator).