Today’s Beer of the Month Club Review comes from Gourmet Monthly Club’s “Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club.” The two beer selections — Nimbus Pale Ale and Nimbus Red Ale — are from the Nimbus Brewing Company in Arizona.
Of the four primary ingredients in beer, water is often the most overlooked. Hops grow more hip each day with breweries boasting increasingly high levels of the potent flowers that lend bitterness, aroma and other flavors. Malt lovers know the grain bill of their favorite brews and we’re seeing unusual, exciting grains in our beers, like quinoa, rye and rice. Nerdy chemistry lovers-turned-homebrewers enthuse about yeast, the superhero ingredient that converts sugars into alcohol and carbonation.
But, water usually trickles under the radar. With Nimbus Brewing Company, featured in this month’s Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club Review, water takes center stage. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, Nimbus Brewing enjoys extremely hard water, like that found in Burton-on-Trent, a famous English brewing town. This hard water lends Nimbus’ ales calcium and magnesium, increasing clarity and hop bitterness.
Nimbus Pale Ale
The first featured beer is the Pale Ale, which pours tangerine-hued and slightly opaque in the glass. It has a chewy mouthfeel and
a predominantly bitter taste, though this is balanced out by a mild malty, earthy background. After the first sip, a lingering bitterness materializes on the back of the tongue, kind of reminiscent of the pith in citrus fruit. After half a bottle, I stopped drinking in order to prevent my taste buds from getting knocked out by this almost numbing bitterness. I appreciated this Pale Ale but wanted either a more robust, buzzy bitterness or a more mild flavor to sip upon — personal preference.
This Microbrewed Beer Club selection did come in handy as an ingredient in Beer Macaroni and Cheese. On a recent camping trip, my friends and I purchased four boxes of Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese to make over our fire for dinner. As the pasta was cooking, we realized we had no milk to add to the mix. We contemplated our options: dry, somewhat sandy tasting Macaroni and Cheese or…beer! We added a can of blonde ale to the mix and it turned out perfectly. So, I used the other half of the Nimbus Pale Ale in a bechamel sauce for my homemade macaroni and cheese. After you make a roux of butter and flour, stir in milk and beer and whisk until the mixture thickens. Then, add cheese. We also used broccoli and bacon in our recipe and it turned out deliciously.
Nimbus Red Ale
The Nimbus, on the other hand, is more sweet than surly and has a whole host of flavors going on, including
caramel, nuts and fruit. In fact, this beer would go well with a slice of apple pie or to a caramel covered apple. And just as sweetness is often complemented by saltiness in desserts, the Red Ale’s sugary attributes are balanced by a mild hoppy bitterness, rounding out the flavor profile.
The Bottom Line
Nimbus Brewing impressed me with its unique Red Ale and a Pale Ale that was excellent for cooking. Each time I encounter a new brewery through the Microbrewed Beer Club, I learn something new — this time, that something was about how hardness or softness in water can affect flavor.
The Microbrewed Beer Club reminds me of the beer version of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program, where you receive a box of locally-grown produce on a regular basis. Becoming a member expands your culinary horizons by receiving unexpected products that you might not normally seek out. Plus, you’re supporting the little guys!
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? It’s not too late to make a short list of family and friends to sign up for the Microwbrewed Beer Club as the intoxicatingly awesome holiday gift that just keeps on giving.
»Learn more about the Microbrew Beer of the Month Club from Gourmet Monthly Clubs