All this week my posts will be related to Heavy Seas Beer of Baltimore, Maryland. Why? Because they make great beer, are a local favorite, and were nice enough to let me wander around their brewery for a few hours with a camera.
Lager yeast and I have never seen eye-to-eukaryote. Every time I brew with it, I’m overly concerned by the lack of quick airlock-action, the diminutive krausen, and the whole needing to keep it cold even though that doesn’t make any logical sense to me. “Bottom fermentation” hides in that foggy part of my brain where I kind of understand what’s going on in terms of beer-science, but also still think it’s some kind of mystic raffinose related ritual.
For a long time, I thought all pale lagers tasted the same. I created a mental association between “lager” and “light,” as if all light beers were lagers, and vice versa. Unless it was something obviously different (like a märzen or a bock), that fizzy yellow-gold stuff all fell safely in the “mowing the lawn on a mid-July Saturday” category. Plenty of refreshment, but not much in terms of complexity. I blame four collegiate years of destroying my taste buds on Milwaukee’s Best Ice.
My fridge – colloquially named “The Beerhome” – is full of ales. That’s sort of its lot in life: a house with the thermostat stuck at 40º, bunk beds ready for several perfectly lined-up rows of stouts, IPAs, porters, and pales. I try to venture into new territory, but the tongue wants what it wants. Lagers don’t usually rent a room in the Beerhome unless 1) I’m having a party, or 2) I just had a party.
I bought Heavy Seas Davy Jones Lager because I’m a pirate. No hyperbole or jokes, I am legitimately a pirate. I have proof:
I’m obligated to try a beer that is pirate themed, even if it’s outside of my normal taste spectrum.
And I’m glad I did.
Unlike other traditional pale lagers, Davy Jones Lager ferments at ale temperatures (~68-70º F), and is then dropped to lager temperatures for the storing process. This is the same process used to create California Steam/Common beer, for those inquiring minds. Warm temperature tolerant yeasts became popular in the 1800s when refrigeration was a luxury not every brewery could afford, especially not during the primary fermentation phase.
The result of this temperature dance is a beer that honors the clear and crisp legacy of other lagers, but also retains fruity esters and complex malt notes. It tends to be creamier than lagers fermented cold, which pleases us picky, ale-centric drinkers. It’s got more up-front hop flavor (a nice citrus bump that I think comes from the Centennials), which is an appreciated departure from the bitter dryness of Czech style pilsners, or any of the American adjunct lagers.
At 6% it’s a bit stronger than you might expect from an “easy drinking” beer, but there are no phenols or fusels present anywhere. Davy Jones has quickly become one of my favorite beers to relax with after work. It’s also a great beer to gently introduce your Bud and Coors friends to the world of craft. Sadly, Heavy Seas only plans to brew it from May-July, so I’ll just have to fill the holds of my ship (basement) with enough to tide me over these harsh Maryland winters.
Heavy Davy Jones Lager Vitals:
- ABV: 6.0%
- IBUs: 30
- Hops: Warrior, Fuggle, Palisade, Centennial
- Malts: 2-Row, Flaked Maize, Wheat Malt, Biscuit