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Thursday, April 25,2013

The cucumber crisis

Salad/beer mashup from Twisted Pine inspires, alleviates fear

By Steve Weishampel
Photo by Elizabeth Miller
Twisted Pine's Cucumber Cream Ale

I admit I wasn’t optimistic.

Something about “Cucumber Cream Ale,” the summer ale from Twisted Pine Brewing Company, struck me as just odd. I feared a bitter aftertaste. I dreaded a muddled sweetness or creaminess — ever had Genesee or Wexford? — that I didn’t think cucumbers were flavorful enough to overcome. I doubted a vegetable — fruit, supposedly — even a mild, likeable, agreeable one, could play nicely with any of the dominant beer flavors — hops, yeast or malt.

We’d only gotten a chance to try the special beer, due out sometime around May 1, because we’d been recognized by our server and then by the owner of the brewery, Bob Baile. We’d been perfectly content to order a mix of Twisted Pine’s standards like Hoppy Boy IPA and its taproom specials like La Petite Saison and Pearl Street Baltic Porter.

But when Baile came by, we couldn’t help but ask whether the Cucumber Cream Ale was ready. Soon it was sitting in front of us, and I was, as I said, filled with fear, dread and doubt. And you thought writing about beer trips was all fun and games.

Then I had my first taste of the Belgian-looking yellow-orange brew, and all of my doubts and fears were washed away.

The cucumber cream ale is clean, crisp, refreshing and simple. It’s just a really good beer. It’s cucumber turned into beer, no bitterness or sweetness involved.

“I’d much rather drink that than eat a salad,” Joel says.

Baile tells us he’s asked Twisted Pine brewers to bring in at least one new recipe a month, which led Lead Brewer Henry Jager to experiment with incorporating cucumber juice into a beer.

This is a beer I insist that you try. Odds are good that it’s going to be the best beer you have this summer. Show up early, get a patio seat and at least order a taster. That might not sound great as I write this, when the forecast calls for 30-degree temperatures and a chance of snow, but it will be perfect when you read this and it’s 65 and sunny.

For others on staff, the cucumber ale wasn’t the only surprise. I knocked a few socks off with my off-the-menu order known as the Razzy Express, a mix of TP’s Raspberry Wheat and Big Shot Espresso Stout into one glorious beer. Think raspberry truffle.

None of the beers at our next stop, Upslope, have inspired primal fears or existential anxieties yet. But give it time.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

Next stops: Upslope, 1501 Lee Hill Road, Boulder, 4 p.m. April 25; Very Nice, 20 Lakeview Drive #112, Nederland, 5 p.m. May 2. Members of the public are welcome.

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