I’m a beer geek.
I’m also a poetry nerd who is addicted to writing Shakespearean sonnets.
In punishment for your many sins, I will be inflicting both of my obsessions upon you, my helpless readers.
For I am Phil Rose (or Doctor Hazelnut)…
The Beer Sonnetteer
The IPA Style; Boundary Bay IPA
Twenty-three years ago I moved to Seattle. I was a poor naïf who had never tried ale; my beer drinking having been confined to light lagers. Obviously I didn’t know what I was missing. But almost immediately my reeducation began when I tried my first ale, at The Big Time Brewery & Alehouse. And it was more than just an ale – it was an India Pale Ale, or IPA to the cognoscenti. (It was, in fact, Big Time’s “Bhagwan’s Best” IPA.)
To say my mind was blown would be an understatement. My life was changed forever. And while I’ve tried many beers in the years since then, representing all brewing styles, I have always maintained a special fondness for the IPA style.
Part of that is Pacific Northwest partisanship, for while the IPA was invented by the Brits (to survive long sea voyages, the story goes) it was brought to perfection right here. When I go to a beer bar I try to order something new. But if I’ve had everything they feature on tap, I drink a Pacific Northwest IPA. Georgetown’s “Lucille,” perhaps. Or Maritime Pacific’s “Imperial.” (Honesty compels me to mention that, of my three favorite IPAs, two are from the East Coast. Which only proves that, in the universe of beer, nothing can be taken for granted.)
Recently I found myself in a beer bar where I’d tried everything they had. So I turned to another old favorite: Boundary Bay’s IPA. Boundary Bay is a brewery based in Bellingham, WA, ‘way up near the Canadian border. Bellingham, science fiction fans will recall, was destroyed in the aftermath of an invasion of Earth by alien space elephants, as chronicled in Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. (Yes, I said space elephants.) Boundary Bay’s Scotch Ale and Oatmeal Stout are exemplars of their respective styles. As for the IPA, read the poems.
Beer Sonnet #4: India Pale Ale
Originally published in Pin-Up Quarterly, Issue 6, April/June 2012
This bitterness is born of history
Of colonists who missed the taste of home
So England sent, in answer to their plea
A precious cargo of the native foam
But in the course of such a long voyage
The liquid treasure would go bad, grow tired
And so to last the journey to The Raj
A dose of antiseptics was required
So thus the extra hops and alcohol
That are the hallmarks of this potent brew
And though the British Empire may fall
The IPA style will arise anew
So history bequeaths upon this ale
Its legacy: A stronger shade of pale
Beer Sonnet #7: Boundary Bay IPA
An IPA. The source? Boundary Bay
“Oh no!” cries Chekhov’s voice inside my head
(That last line makes no sense at all, you say?
Then read a non-geek’s beer review instead)
It pours a cloudy amber in the glass
It has a pleasant orange-grapefruit scent
The head is small, there isn’t that much gas
The alcohol is 6.4%
The hops are balanced perfectly with malts
(This beer is not a “hop bomb,” so be warned)
The taste becomes a pine-and-citrus waltz
It’s classic; clean and crisp and unadorned
So when you tire of different and new
Return to this reliably good brew