At Home #1 - On trends and styles

With the present post I start a series -At Home-, with no determined duration or periodicity, with the will to write a bit more during this period of confinement due to Covid-19, while sharing some reflections that come to mind when I drink certain beers. The intention is that it serves as a quick read, to stimulate ideas, without becoming a compilation of extensive tasting notes, or leading to long musings. And, of course, with the aim of encouraging local beer consumption in these difficult times for our breweries. Let's go.

After confirming the confinement, quickly seeing the implications that it would have for the industry, one of the first things I did was ordering beer from La Pirata, one of the most strictly local breweries, being just a few kilometers from my home. No need to introduce these guys at this point, being one of the most popular breweries in the country, with wide and well-deserved recognition outside our borders. The unquestionable quality and soundness of their products make it possible to place large orders for the same beer without fear of finding any spoilt batches, or beer that is not up to expectations.

'Evolution, largely driven by trends, constantly redefines a dynamic reality that, in one way or another, we all try to express statically'

La Pirata - Barcelona Tropical

In the order I take several Barcelona Tropical, an IPA with double dry-hopping, born as a result of a collaboration with the admired Les Trois Mousquetaires brewery, from Québec. I remember how about two and a half years ago, in its second batch, I considered that this recipe was really well done, especially highlighting its clear focus on tropical aromas, as the name and label point out, but with a very fine IPA base.

I serve it and it has a very appetising appearance, with an intense golden color and good retention. I identify an aromatic element that I rarely find in beer, and that I also scribbled in previous notes: watermelon; accompanied by the usual citrus, mango, peach or pomegranate, among others. Some caramel, biscuit or bread crust on the background, being resinous and dry as you swallow, with a long and balsamic quality bitterness.

An excellent beer, although I am struck by the fact that tropical fruit does not seem to be as dominant as in the past, displacing the beer in my opinion from that in-your-face hopping that is trendy today. The above is surely the result of the type of beers and techniques that have been applied since the creation of this recipe, from that seemingly distant period prior to the conquest of NEIPAs. But who cares about trends, anyway?

La Pirata - Panòptic

And speaking of NEIPAs, another beer that makes it in the order is one of my favorites of the brand, Panòptic, part of the beer series that revolves around concepts specific to the study of sociology, bringing together in the same product the academic training and profession of the founder and head brewer of La Pirata, Aran León.

Light golden in color, it shows a shy turbidity and a nice fluffy white foam. As soon as you crack open the can, without even pouring it, those fresh aromas that have turned the brewing industry upside down in recent years begin to flood the nose, uncovering all kinds of fruity nuances in the glass -melon, citrus, fruit of passion, lychee-, while retaining its 'hoppiness'. Something that is also achieved in terms of flavour, being moderately bitter for an IPA, but enough so that we do not forget that we are actually drinking one. The whole thing is supported by the cereal, which is expressed timidly with notes of white bread and oats, along with some esters from the fermentation. Dry, lively, with a medium to high body.

It shines with its own light from the very first batch, which being remarkably clear led many to label it as the 'not-really-hazy NEIPA of La Pirata', at a time when these beers were booming with their impenetrable opacity, which made them more similar to a fruit juice, without filtering the pulp. With the adjustment typical of a recipe that evolves, but without substantial changes, curiously -and just unlike Barcelona Tropical- it is situated in the current trend of beers I observe: the ones that aromatically squeeze hops to their peak, with some turbidity yet not opaque, and retaining a certain degree of bitterness without being its main purpose.


Because... where does a beer style start, and where does it end? What is the difference between a Hazy DDH IPA and a NEIPA? Do we have to get obsessed about a beer being 'according to style', as consumers? What if we are judges? Evolution, largely driven by trends, constantly redefines a dynamic reality that, in one way or another, all with our own criteria and objectives, we try to express statically.

Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb, in their book World Atlas of Beer -second edition-, describe beer styling as "[...] an informal agreement between a brewer and a consumer, expressed via a label, by which the former tells what sort of beer they are about to buy. It is also a way to win prizes'. One of the best definitions that, in my opinion, we can all use in our day to day.

With this last reflection, just let me remind you that you can buy these and more La Pirata beers in their online store.

Salut i birra!


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