Friday, March 6, 2009

Rising Moon Spring Ale: Defying Bitterness with Aromatics

The first time I drank beer was with my father. It was a bottle of Hofbräu Oktoberfest and I was sixteen years old. I took three or four sips and gave up. When he told me that beer was an acquired taste I respectfully disagreed; if it tasted bitter and awful then there would be no getting used to it. In retrospect, I see that this was precisely the effect my father was hoping for. I was attending The Bronx High School of Science at the time and Dad knew that the student population wasn’t all about Trekkies colliding in the halls as they contemplated hydrocarbon chains. Party culture and the curious teenager could collide as easily as molecules being studied in the classroom.

In the late 70’s dark and amber beers weren't that popular in the States. When Hofbräu Oktoberfest showed up in the store, my father would get a six-pack and relive memories of his glory days in the United States Army (a fact peppered with irony as he was a United States soldier stationed in Schweinfurt after surviving Auschwitz as a teenager; a fact Private Paul Krell always considered his best revenge). At the same time a shampoo called Body on Tap promised to transform hair using beer as a bodifying agent. Body on Tap’s scent was malty, woody, floral and slightly musky. It would linger well into the day and leave a soft trace of scent on my pillow at night. With Body on Tap I thought I'd found the only beer I could ever love.

Today lovefests between me and a bottle of beer are rare. Blue Moon Belgian White Ale (1995) comes close, with crisp aromas of coriander and orange peel. Its distinctive creamy taste makes the natural bitterness present in a fermented grain beverage palatable. Brewmaster Keith Villa of Molson Coors revisited the application of citrus in a recipe for Rising Moon Spring Ale (2007) and created a refreshing and fragrant brew that includes kaffir lime leaves and Persian lime peel. Kaffir lime leaves lend lemongrass and bay notes, blending well with the malty facets of the drink. Persian lime, which does not have the bitterness of regular lime, adds fresh, hesperidic and floral aromas. The flavor of kaffir lime leaves is prevalent in the body of the ale whereas the Persian lime is more noticeable in the finish. The overall impression of this amber wheat ale is delicious and bright.

Speaking of brightness, those of us living in the United States are due for more daylight this weekend. On Sunday, March 8th at 12:00 a.m. clocks will roll forward in observance of daylight saving time. You can celebrate spring with a few bottles of Rising Moon Spring Ale on Saturday night, so you won’t have to think about the hour of sleep you’ll be losing on Sunday morning. Just make sure to stock up on the seasonal brew and set your clocks forward before you start drinking.


Body on Tap, which was discontinued in the late 80’s, has been revived by the Vermont Country Store. Curiosity seekers and nostalgia buffs can buy a bottle for $14.95 plus shipping. 1-802-362-8460.

Kaffir leaves can be experienced in two delicious dishes served at Boi Restaurant in New York. Ga Me offers sliced boneless chicken breast in black sesame sauce with roasted yellow squash and kaffir lime leaves. La Lot is made with marinated shrimp rolled in Hawaiian pepper leaves served on a bed of turmeric rice noodles drizzled in peanut sauce and topped with fresh kaffir lime leaves. Boi Restaurant is located at 246 East 44th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. 212-681-6541.

Visit the Blue Moon Brewing Company website to learn about additional tasty offerings.

The army photograph of my father, Paul Krell, was taken between 1953 and 1954.