Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pyramid Rollicks in the Spring

I'm going to detour this conversation about Pyramid's latest Rollick Amber Lager before I even get started. I've received complimentary beer in the mail for some time now from breweries that apparently want me to taste their beer. Presumably, they also want me to write about it...likely with praise. Which I do, occasionally, but not often. I think this is worth more of an explanation. I wish to explain for two reasons. One, there seems to be no shortage of those out there in the bliggedy-blog world of beer writing who are more than pleased with themselves to point out each and every complimentary beer that they receive...and it's these who give at least light praise, if for nothing other than the beautiful packaging that the beer arrives within. (On the other hand and to be fair, I do realize that many bloggers who review beer do it fairly and out of their own pocket) Either it's a point of braggadocio or it's like they feel obliged to go as far out of their way to say something nice about it if for no other reason than it was sent to them for free and they might feel some sort of expectation to do so...and that they must comply, for fear of my next comment. Two, for not writing about beers that I've received, I'm almost certain that I've been dropped from brewery mailing lists. Now, mind you, at the end of the day I simply could not care less. As far as it concerns me and my personal consumption and written reviews, I have ample access to great beers from around the country and world. It never hurts to have more (and having them sent is awfully darn convenient), but receiving free beers in the mail ain't exactly gonna make or break my writing. That being said, why a brewery would drop me from a mailing list just because I haven't written about the beer they sent seems foolish. My circle of beer drinking friends (and, yes, perhaps influence) is wide. And, just because I choose to not write about it doesn't mean that it still won't be shared and/or discussed with friends. So, for any breweries out there who choose to do this free beer sample type of thing, listen up...this is how I approach the topic. If you send me a beer and I'm floored by it, it's a virtual stone-cold lock that I'll say something about it at The Brew Lounge. (And, in one of my favorite examples, if it's a really freaking good 12-pack of Gordon Biersch Dunkleweizen, I'll drink a few and give the rest out to friends for them to sample!) If you send a beer to me and it's good, but not great, it's a toss-up depending upon the state of my writing queue at the time. And, if it turns out to be a clunker, I'll promise to never write about it until I've found to be consistently clunky from my bottled mail sample, to a draft sample (anywhere), to a sample fresh at the source. Then, a negative review may just be in order if I feel it will benefit those who read it. That last comment I feel quite strongly about is how anyone writing any type of review-style comment (be it in a blog, a forum, or a ratings site) should approach their reviews. One sample does not always make an informed judgement. We would all do well to apply this to more than just beer reviews in our daily lives (boy, talk about calling Dr. Phil...sheesh!) HEY! There's actual a carrot here at the end of this quasi-rant. Pyramid's recent Rollick Amber Lager. I received this just before I left for San Francisco Beer Week...actually received two of them. Drank one the night before I left, loved it, and swore I'd write about it when I returned. So, two months go by and here I go. I finally drank the other one last night, and it still made me happy. It's a nice and clear filtered beer with a amber color (um, great call in the name!) and a modest head that hangs around for a while. The draw to me is the balance that Pyramid has created between an early summer tease of a nice easy lager (with a tiny bit of a spicy hop kick, a la pilsener) and a more substantial beer (the Rollick comes in at 6% ABV) suitable for colder spring nights. It turns out to be a great 'here comes summer' beer that pairs well with food too. Last night it was with a chicken-based wrap that it stood up well to and complemented. I realized I needed to get the word out to you when, first, I saw it on tap at the Oakland airport, and more recently when I checked Pyramid's website to see that it's only a spring seasonal that will start disappearing soon from store shelves. My advice? Get a six-pack while you still can.

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