Hey! I’m back! In case you didn’t know, I was in Costa Rica all last week and was unable to write due to my being on vacation. I have survived being immersed in Spanish, trekking through jungles and over collapsed roads, and witnessing some of the most beautiful landscapes and some of the most terrible effects of natural disasters and poverty. My fiance and I enjoyed lots of excellent Costa Rican dishes and met some wonderful people, but I am so happy to be home in one piece and with such a great experience.
As I mentioned on my last post right before I left, Costa Rica – and the area we were traveling to in particular: Parrita and Quepos in Manuel Antonio – was hit by Tropical Storm/Hurricane Tomas only 4 days prior to our arrival and the damages were still very much in effect. When we passed through Parrita on the only road to get to Quepos, we witnessed the aftermath of a “small” natural disaster (I say small in comparison to a full-blown hurricane/earthquake type disaster like Haiti, not to take anything away from the terrible event itself) first hand. It is nothing like hearing or reading about it online or seeing it on TV; it is frightening and sad to see hundreds of already poverty stricken people wandering around their destroyed homes trying to salvage anything that may have survived the 3-day rains, extreme flooding, mudslides, winds, and sinkholes. There was at least a foot of mud and river sediment covering everything that had been under water, and in many places, including homes and businesses, there was still half a foot of water. Not to mention, apparently after people evacuated the town looking for dry ground, looters ransacked many of the houses and police had to be stationed at every dirt road and alleyway to prevent any further robberies.
It was very sad to see and really made our trip that much more realistic, considering our destination was an an unbelievable 5-star small luxury eco-resort. We felt better about our fortunes when we talked to the owners of the hotel and learned that they actually helped set up camps and shelters for displaced residents as well as provided money and building supplies to the affected towns to help rebuilding efforts – year round; aka: not just when they desperately needed it. All in all, we had a great time, relaxed a lot, and are more appreciative of our lives here in the states despite how many [luxury] problems we have.
Shall we lighten the mood and talk about beer? Yes, I think so.
I did manage to get my hands on two beers in Costa Rica, an Imperial and a Pilsen, both by Cerveceria Costa Rica, but as both of them are readily available here in the states, I didn’t think going into them would be all that spectacular (they’re both C- in my book, give or take a few perks). So to welcome myself back to the Grand Canyon State, I thought I should go with something local – Prescott Brewing Company‘s Liquid Amber Ale. I will also gladly mention that this is my first home purchase of a canned beer, other than the Four Peaks Sunbru at Spitfire Grill and I liked it.
Poured into my snifter, it shone a dark honey-amber color with golden-copper highlights peeking through the slightly murky/cloudy liquid. The off-white head gradually built to an inch thick at the rate I poured the beer, and just as gradually dissipated to a thin ring. There was quite a bit of initial carbonation sticking in rings around the glass under the liquid, but as the beer sat, it quickly disappeared. There was little head retention and little to no lacing left behind.
Sticking my nose in the glass, I immediately came away with something woody, but nothing I could put my finger on. The overall smell of the Liquid Amber was quite subtle and it took me a few good sniffs to pick out everything confidently, but as the beer warmed, the different aromas became prominent enough to attend to. There were some burnt caramel and honey notes smothering a lightly sweet malt at the forefront, closely followed by caramelized brown sugar mixed into a thick molasses. Hiding way in the back, something reminiscent of a wet, earthy bran brought up the rear and dismissed anything that might have resembled hops. Only after a bit of research did I find out that this beer is supposedly brewed with Tettnang hops, which are an original noble aroma hop from the Tettnang region of Germany that provide a light spicy, woody nose and soft bitterness to the flavor that is normally ideal for lagers and wheat beers.
My first taste of this brew was utter shock at the thin and watery texture. Before I could knock it down for mouthfeel, I realized my mouth felt like it had been coated in a slick, wet coat that lasted for a good while after each swallow – keeping the beer very smooth with very little dryness. The taste was just as subtle as the smell, even with the liquid backing it up, and I had to take two or three swigs before I really tasted anything. I found that letting it warm a little enhanced the flavors and mouthfeel as well as the smells, and it turned out to be much more enjoyable when it wasn’t fresh from the fridge. At the beginning of each sip, I enjoyed a quick tingly zest right at the back of the roof of my mouth for a short second before my tongue was flooded with the slightly oily, wet wave of caramel and honey. I’m not sure what kinds of malts were used in this brew, but I found light hints of sweet bran and maybe a touch of rye leaking through the early caramel.
I’m really glad I found this beer hiding in the singles section at Whole Foods, as I’ve been running out of options there short of nipping one or two from the 6-packs – which really confuses them at the checkout. I love being able to support local breweries and businesses when I’m able, and being welcomed back to Arizona with a can of beer I enjoyed more and more as it warmed – I guess you could say I warmed up to it…eh? eh?…sorry – made this a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I missed writing so much while I was away, so I apologize if this is a bit patchy and not up to speed with some of my other posts, but I’m just glad to be here with a solid beer sharing my adventures with you. It’s not always easy, but life is certainly better shared.