Saturday, February 9, 2019

Episode 27: Einstök White Ale and Toasted Porter with Smilin' Mike Mason and Squire Brendan Roche

I. Introduction

"That's a giraffe penis."

What happens when a tiny Scandinavian nation ends a 68 year long prohibition on beers over 2.25% alcohol by volume?  Hold up.  What happens when some American brewers, only a few years later, fall in love with that same nation’s legendarily delicious fresh water?

Well, let’s be honest.  This isn’t much of a riddle.  So today we’re talking about a quaff that links the brewing traditions of the United States and Iceland, a product that is the largest beer export of Iceland, and a beer that – and I’m speculating here – is probably consumed in vast quantities by grog-swilling trolls, ale-guzzling dwarfs, and beer-nipping elves.

Today's episode features Lonnie Johnson's 1937 "Floodwater Blues."

II. Our Guests, Smilin' Mike Mason and Squire Brendan Roche

Subbing in for an absent Jason Clayman, B-Roche and Smilin' 
Mike show a natural professionalism and gentility that is a thing for real admiration. 

III. Rubrics, Reviews, and Talking Points: White Ale
BeerAdvocate: 3.82 of 5

RateBeer: 3.71 of 5

Untappd: 3.18 of 5

ABV: 5.2%

Ingredients: Wheat malt, pilsner malt, oats, Bavarian noble hops, coriander, orange peel, and water from the Hlíðarfjall glacier. 

Cost: $$; we got it for about $8.50 a six-pack at a specialty store; be warned the cans are European-sized

Appearance: Nice pale golden color, translucent but not wholly transparent, beautiful head with nice Brussels lace.

Aroma: Mild, notes of pilsner, wheat, and spice.  

Flavor: Incredibly smooth - a pleasant sort of spiciness in the front notes, malty, the pilsner notes dominating at the back. Truly a beer for any time of the year, any setting, and either just a single pleasurable pint or as a session beer. 

Mouthfeel: Simple, clean, mild, dry, and refreshing. 

Authenticity, Marketing, and Other Factors:  For a young company, Einstök White Ale has already earned quite the pedigree - it won Double Gold at the New York International Beer Competition in 2018, Silver at the International Beer Challenge in London in 2014, and Gold at the LA Commercial Beer Competition in 2013.  It is a bit weird that it was founded by Americans in Iceland, making it a strange sort of beast (American-Icelandic?).  Beautiful website.  None of us have ever seen an ad for this beer. Kudos to the graphic design department, by the by.  Folks, you're doing it. 

Overall: Mike gave this a 3.75 of 5; Brendan threw it a 4 of 5, and Eric gave it a 4 of 5.  Overall? A 3.92 of 5! Superb!

IV. Rubrics, Reviews, and Talking Points: Toasted Porter

BeerAdvocate: 3.82 of 5

RateBeer: 3.78 of 5 

Untappd: 3.18 of 5 

ABV: 6.0%

Ingredients: Lager malt, Munich malt, chocolate malt, Bavarian hops, Icelandic roasted coffee, and water from the Hlíðarfjall glacier.

Cost: $$; we got it for $8.50 a sixer at specialty shop

Appearance: Black.  Totally opaque, no transparency.  Lotta' head early but not much Brussels lace.

Aroma: Rich coffee notes,  a little toffee, typical of a high quality dark beer.  

Flavor: Rich, delicious, again with coffee notes that don't overwhelm.  For Mike and Brendan who tend towards lighter beers this was a "meal" but not a chore or too chewy.  Eric, on the other hand, who leans towards stouts and porters thought that this was a lighter (in terms of feel) black beer.  Mike asserted that he caught notes of nuts. 
Mouthfeel: Smooth, pleasant, a clean finish for a porter. 

Authenticity, Marketing, and Other Factors:  Again, beautiful design.  Echo all the above sentiments.

Overall: Mike gave it a 3.75 of 5; B-Roche a 3.75 of 5; and Ol' Eric Drummond a 4.25 of 5.  Overall? We gave this a 3.92 of 5!

V. Our Sponsors

Today we have two magical sponsors:

Leben Farms of Abingdon, Virginia

Leben Farms is a community supported-agriculture (CSA) program that offers locally grown fresh vegetables in weekly boxes to its members in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee.  Using organic and regenerative practices to grow nutrient dense food, community-supported agriculture is a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers. In short: people buy "shares" of a farm's harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they're harvested.

Check them out on Facebook or Instagram.


Glade Pharmacy in Glade Spring, Virginia
33472 Lee Hwy, Glade Spring, VA 24340

Locally owned and managed, Glade Pharmacy provides the highest quality pharmaceutical service in the Emory/Glade Spring area,

VI. Plugs

Beer Country

Chad Bathtub's Bathtub Emporium 

The Elf School (Álfaskólinn)


The Masked Singer

VII. Selected Readings and Viewings


Sveinn Birkir Björnsson. September 5, 2015. "The Beer Connoisseur’s Guide To Icelandic Beer." The Reykjavik Grapevine. 

Nick Hines.  December 21, 2016.  "The 7 Best White Ales to Drink Right Now."  Vinepair

Ronald Theriot. June 30, 2016. "Einstök Icelandic White Ale." Louisiana Beer Reviews. YouTube.