The Sochi Seven

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Performance Enhancing Pils - Dave Hoops, Brewmaster at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota, takes commemorative classics to a higher level.

In 2014, January and February showed their extreme heads in the northeast corner of the United States. From temperatures that dipped below zero to blizzard-like snowfalls back-to-back, there has been no shortage of adventure for those hunkering-down with a hi-def screen and Imperial brew to shield the harshness of Mother Nature. With so much attention drawn toward the world stage, I see myself as a fellow Olympian, locked arm-in-arm with our U.S. Team in Sochi – at least in spirit.

My idea of Olympic participation may seem a bit skewed, but I still enjoy every moment of competition. Curling, for example … What’s better than curling my arm toward my mouth, anticipating that cold libation with its foaming head and warming alcoholic heat? It takes endurance and skill to taste every Barley Wine or Winter Warmer in town, walking gingerly on icy sidewalks from pub to tavern. Where’s my medal?

The mighty Scots, who are credited with inventing the sport of Curling in the late medieval period, would have my head for saying such things. To date, the earliest written reference to curling points to February, 1541; and in 1565, Pieter Brueghel the Elder immortalized a peasants’ game of curling in two different paintings that year. But what’s an Olympic Sport without a classic beer to commemorate it?

Dave Hoops, Brewmaster at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota, had that same identical thought, so he took it to a higher level. With 2-1/2 decades of brewing experience, Hoops has designed over 100 recipes that could easily be categorized as world-class beer. Brewing in a 10-barrel brewhouse allows him the latitude to produce consistently-brewed classic styles, while accenting these flagships with beers that push beyond the horizon, celebrate the season, and commemorate greatness. Hoops and his 9“crewmasters” developed the Sochi Series of seven high-gravity beers, dedicated to our Olympians at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Duluth, Minnesota is also home to the U.S. Men’s Curling team, so two of the Fitger’s beers applaud curling stardom. Sochi Series #5, Back End Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, rolls across the tongue as a tribute to Scotland. Not only does it celebrate Scotland in style, but it also applauds the “back end” of the curling team, the “third and skip” who develop the strategy and call the shots throughout the game. With 9% ABV, the malts shine through – sweet and roasty – with toffee-like wisps and hints of chocolate. Its body glistens with clean, mahogany color, reflecting garnet along the edges.

By: Carolyn Smagalski (The Beer Fox)