Beer: DeConstruction Ale Brewery: Odell Brewing Co. Style: American Wild Ale ABV: 10.5 percent
Welcome back to Craft Beer 101, class. Hope you brought your thinking caps as well as your drinking glasses, because today's lesson is quite involved. Now take out your textbooks and turn to the chapter on deconstruction.
First posited in the '60s by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, deconstruction is a process of literary criticism in which texts are interpreted through the breakdown of their component parts. While reading, a critic employing deconstruction finds oppositions between ideas and flips them, shifting them out of the normal meaning in order to find deeper ones.
As beer can be considered a form of creative work equivalent to any text, the idea of deconstruction can also be applied to our favorite drink. The brewers at Fort Collins, Colo.'s Odell Brewing Co. did just that in August 2010 with the first release of DeConstruction Golden Ale. The method, according to brewers, involved "identifying first principals and making pronounced through pilot brewing the desired elements that contribute to the overall flavor." In (slightly more plain) English, this means beer-makers took the original-recipe brew and broke it down into several different variations. Some portions were fermented with a mixture of our house ale yeast, wild yeast, and lactobacillus bacteria; some were aged in red zinfandel barrels; some spent time in barrels that once house the brewery's Woodcut beers. Three months later, the brewers crafted another batch of the original brew and blended this new batch together with the aged portions, created a new beer that contains its own deconstructed components.
So you see, class, a lot of work went into the creation of Deconstruction -- but this effort paid off beautifully. As you can see from the samples in front of you, in appearance the beer's a clear, pale dandelion yellow that deepens to a hazy tangerine. A puffy off-white head sticks around for quite a while, its bubbles gripping the sides of the glass with all their might.
In the nose, the beer is delightfully tart. A nice funky yeast character, balances oak, pine, sweet pineapples, white grapes, red apples, pears and strawberries. It's almost like a pink Starbust. The aroma strikes a perfect balance between tartness, sweetness and barrel-aging. This scientist is in love.
Take a sip from your beakers -- notice how Deconstruction tastes like a better, more complex Belgian pale ale? The sour character is far more subdued than the nose would suggest, acquiescing instead to fruitier, sweet flavors of pears and white wine. However, there is a nice green apple tartness that grows a bit as you drink. Now, be careful, class. With the plethora of flavors dancing about the palate, it's easy to forget that DeConstruction is a nearly 11-percent ABV beast. Two glasses and you'll be feeling mighty fine. The oak is barely noticeable, acting as a nice backbone to the sweeter flavors and spicy clove, and the finish is ephemeral and interchangeable; at some times sweet, at others tart, at others dry, but at all times tasty.
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Which brings us back to Derrida. Deconstruction, when employed effectively, creates new notions or concepts, taking the pieces of a work in opposition with one another and marking their differences, fluidity and interplay. This is why Deconstruction the beer works so well: it utilizes its own opposed parts and shows how they can work together to become a glorious whole. Class dismissed.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.