Beer of the Weekend #719: Scythe & Sickle

Tell me: Am I crazy for wanting to go to tomorrow’s Purdue-Iowa game in the wake of a snowstorm? I feel like I am. However, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to see a game played on a snowy field. The last time it happened in Iowa City was in 1991. It was apparently a good ol’ time, complete with snowballs aimed at the refs and snow angels in the end zone.

In light of tonight’s snowstorm, my plan was to buy the 2015 edition of Schell’s Snowstorm series. However, Schell-brand beers are hard to find in the IC area right now because, I heard, the local distributor changed. So the beer of the weekend is Scythe & Sickle, brewed by the Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York.

This should be interesting because I have no clue how old this beer is. It could be from 2012. There is no mention of Scythe & Sickle on Ommegang’s website, which is a little scary; breweries usually love to gloat about their beers, regardless of whether they are flagships, seasonals, or one-offs. Where has this four-pack been? Was it refrigerated the whole time? Recent reviews on BA indicate that the beer seems okay, but I am anxious nonetheless. I hope it has aged well.

Scythe & Sickle pours a cloudy amber into a tulip glass. A slow, careful pour still produced a dense, meringue-like, four-finger-tall, cream-colored head. It dissipates slowly, leaving a lot of foam hanging on the glass and foamy peaks. The first whiff is spicy and tinged with funk. It is malty, too, with hints of caramel and pale malt. It has a boozy touch, though it could just be astringency from the spice, and it is also pleasantly grassy like a Czech pilsner. The mouthfeel is full and creamy, and the flavors slowly roll across the palate — hay, caramel, creamy pale malt, funk, and spice. It is not overly funky or spicy, but both hang around in the background and are noticeable with each sip.

Fun facts about Scythe & Sickle:

• Style: It is classified on BA as “Bière de Garde” but the label refers to it as “harvest ale.”

• Price: $7.99 per four-pack of 12-ounce bottles at the “Drug Town” on Rochester and First Avenue in Iowa City. I thought the price seemed a little low for an Ommegang beer…

• Alcohol content: 5.8 percent ABV.

• The bottle label instructs one to, “Pour slowly so as not to disturb the yeast sediment, but with enough vigor to create luxurious head and release the rich bouquet.” I tried to pour it as carefully as possible, but it’s hard not to disturb the yeast. Frankly, having drank so many hefeweizens, it’s second nature for me to do so.

• I was told tonight that “scythe” is pronounced “si-th,” not “sky-th,” like I thought it was.

The Quiet Man’s grade: A-.

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