Here at OKC.NET, we recently moved into the office next door. It was decided that we should replace the carpet with hardwood flooring; it was further decided that, as thoughtful, college-educated individuals, we could probably do it ourselves. In Thomas Harris’s classic thriller novel Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling’s supervisor at the FBI has a saying: “when you assume, it makes an ASS out of U and ME”. Needless to say, we made asses of ourselves trying to put the flooring in; we found out there was something about the instructions we apparently misunderstood on a fundamental level. After almost an hour of futility, it was determined only one thing could help us improve our floor-laying skills: beer.
So we decided to go to Tapwerks for our first official OKC.NET beer review visit (there may have been one or two unofficial visits, but those were off the record). It wasn’t so much that we were trying to blaze new trails, though, as it was that when we got to McNellie’s (which is about three blocks from our office) on Monday evening, it was closed due to a power outage. Damn. Tapwerks has a staggering selection of great beers, is Daniel’s personal favorite metro area bar, and is a place he’s been talking up since we started reviewing beers. Overall, everything turned out really well. (except for Daniel inexplicably deciding to review Pabst Blue Ribbon).
Boulevard Single Wide IPA:
I’m a big fan of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series line of premium beers, so I decided to give their non-wheat beers a try. I’ve had the Double-Wide IPA, which is Boulevard’s stonger, hoppier take on the India Pale Ale, so I was expecting their Single-Wide IPA to be a pretty tasty, fairly drinkable beer. I was right about the drinkable part, but not necessarily in a good way. It reminds me a little of Shiner Bock, not because it’s similar in taste, but because it has a similar washed-out-not-quite-a-good-example-of-the-style-it-claims-to-be flavor. That is to say, the Single-Wide doesn’t really have a very pronounced IPA flavor, and I wasn’t very impressed.
Would you drink it again?
This isn’t that bad a beer, but it’s not that good a beer, either. Based on that, I wouldn’t turn one down if offered to me, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this beer. It’s not usually that hard to find a better American IPA even on a budget; Sierra Nevada brews vastly superior IPAs that are for the most part comparable in price to Boulevard’s (which contradicts the widely-held opinion that Californians don’t know shit about beer).
Pabst Blue Ribbon:
Pabst Blue Ribbon is the gold standard of cheap beers; not only is it the cheapest full-strength beer on tap at any given bar, it also apparently won a blue ribbon at some point. Those are two pretty convincing arguments for PBR in my book. Also, if you have hipster friends, you never have to worry about buying good beer because they like bad things ironically (to be fair, they also like bad things un-ironically, like Animal Collective. Boom! Zinger!). That way, there’s no pressure to impress anyone with your developed palette and nuanced opinions like when you’re around wine people.
The best reason to drink Pabst, though? It’s what Dennis Hopper drinks in David Lynch’s surrealist nightmare of a film Blue Velvet, so anytime you order it you can feel really cool because, you know, you’re drinking the same thing that maybe the most sexually sadistic movie character of all time drinks. So there’s that.
Would you drink it again?
Yes. You will always drink Pabst again, no matter what you tell yourself when you lie awake at night. It’s not even really all that bad; it’s definitely preferable to any number of other reasonably-priced beer options.
Battered Boar Heartbreakhefe
There were a few Oklahoma beers on Tapwerks menu. Given I’d tried different kinds of Oklahoma beers earlier this summer, I’d have to say I hadn’t tried this label yet, much less heard or read anything of the brewery. Admittedly I did not do an extensive nerd search for all past and current Oklahoma breweries. I suppose if I were a more fact-fueled reporter I’d also have contacted some state agency (which I’ve not bothered to do at all), a brewery or two (ok, I’ve been to several), did an online article search for relevant beer topics (which I do only as I write these reviews), and just more digging around in general (whatever I hear in conversation + some above and beyond measure like reading books on a particular style of beer). But that kind of near obsessive approach, while valid field research, kills the joy of accidental discoveries. To that end, as I said last week, if I don’t know what I’m in the mood for I always end up choosing a Hefe.
Hefeweizen, that is.
[Editor’s Note: Our beer reviewers are nothing if not consistent with their selections. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the beer review feature when Helen runs out of wheat beers to try and Daniel runs out of pale ales. They should probably consider this next time.]
All said this is the first American version that I liked a lot as it totally redeems itself and Hefes made in the USA, or at least when compared to ones made in Oregon and Texas which are then sold in Oklahoma. Locals should have some pride with this one, that’s how much better it is than those others. Having tried what I deemed as really pitiful examples of Hefeweizen last week, this one is luxury for just a few dollars more. And it is worth every penny of $4.50, although it may be cheaper by the bottle at the liquor store, so there is that.
The Heartbreakhefe has all the characteristics of a more traditional Hefeweizen – the spice, the banana, the yeasty goodness-however, it is a little bit sweeter than its foreign counterpart and there’s not much of a head on it. It is also a lot darker than any of the other American Hefeweizens I’ve had or researched. Not that it matters much to me about the head, although I’m told I should care because “heady” beer is purportedly more complex in taste. Perhaps this is true, since a long-lasting thicker foam would naturally preserve the beer‘s lingering aroma as it slowly dissipated, but again, I’ve not done my research so who knows if that’s really the case. Although taste and smell are linked, so it stands to reason that’s probably why people care about the thickness of the head. Other things I’d like to know: what the hell kind of importance “lacing” has on the mark of a beer‘s quality? Sounds like more information needs to be gathered, and there’s only one good way to do that: drink other kinds of beers while looking into these things.
Would you drink it again?
Yup, too bad they don’t serve this at bowling alleys as I would have preferred this option to the Miller High Life I had over the weekend. Truly I don’t care if other people like beers such as that, all I know is I hate when I’m stuck with one. Which ought to say something in that I would pick a High Life over a soda. Honestly, high fructose corn syrup should be taken out of drinks for if no other reason than it just tastes worse than sugar and subpar beer.
In summation: Stop being cheap and pony up a few bucks to enjoy one really good beer instead of a lot of craptastic ones.
Franziskaner Dunkel Weisse
Germany, Sweet, Germany.
Damn those Aryans sure know how to brew, this isn’t even top of the line for this kind of style, and it is still just that good.
Would you drink it again?
Are you kidding? This wasn’t even my first time drinking this kind of Dunkel Weisse. It’s a dark hefe, meaning it’s maltier than the standard Hefeweizens. Even so, the Dunkel is more complex than the Battered Boar Heartbreakhefe, but only by a narrow margin. It’s milder on the palate as the flavors meld really well. It also isn’t as sweet as the Heartbreakhefe. My only hang-up about this beer? I was slightly appalled that it was served with a wedge of lemon. I’ve never had it served that way that before, and having always had this beer without lemon, I can’t imagine why the hell someone would think this particular brand would need it. A Franziskaner Dunkel Weisse is not a Boulevard Wheat, people.