February 10th, 2007

Beer of the Gods

Beer of the GodsA couple of years ago, in an article called “Light, Crisp and Unavailable,” I complained about the lack of flavorful but light-bodied, moderate-in-alcohol craft beers. Craft brewers and beer drinkers were then and, for the most part, still are obsessed with “extreme beers” high in alcohol, loaded with hops, and heavy with malty sweetness. Some of these beers are exceptional and fun to drink. But what about when you’re looking for an everyday beer with great character? Where is the American — preferably local — equivalent of a German helles or kolsch, an English ordinary bitter, or the dry Belgian ale DeKoninck? Well, my prayers have finally been answered. There is a six-pack of Beer of the Gods in my fridge.

Beer of the Gods is a hybrid of two German ale styles. It’s made with the pale pilsner malt used in Cologne’s golden ale, Kölsch, and the spicy noble hops used in Dusseldorf’s Alt beer. Extra aroma hops are added during a crucially lengthy lagering (cold-aging) stage. The result is a light, crisp, refreshingly hoppy, exquisitely balanced beer.

Will Shelton, who with his brother Dan owns the Shelton Brothers beer-import company in Belchertown, MA, brews Beer of the Gods at the Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, MA, under the name High & Mighty Brewing Co. In addition to Beer of the Gods, he produces XPA (extra-pale ale), an American pale ale that’s hoppy without being overly citrusy or herb-y. Brewing these beer styles makes total sense for Will, given that he and Dan have for years bucked the extreme-beer trend by importing traditional, nuanced beers from very small breweries in Europe, the U.K. and Canada. They are known for regularly pissing off the craft-beer cognoscenti by, for instance, denouncing many strong Belgian ales as much too sweet (Duvel, Delirium Tremens) and dismissing the armchair connoisseurs behind the beer-rating system on BeerAdvocate.com. But their criticisms have legitimacy, because they know good beer. (By the way, these are the guys behind Santa’s Butt Winter Porter, an English beer whose label caused some regulatory controversy.)

And now they don’t just import good beer, they make it, too. In greater Boston you can find High & Mighty beers at Downtown Wine and Spirits in Davis Square, Somerville. Call first to make sure they’re in stock, though: 617-625-7777.

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