The temperature soared to 85 degrees yesterday here in Albany. That’s not entirely unheard of around here in May, but it was an unexpected foretaste of summer considering we haven’t even hit the peak of spring migration yet. And as much as I’d love to feature once again some colorful spring migrants this week at Birds and Booze, the fact is I haven’t had much luck locating any – well, on cans and bottles of booze, that is. I’ve been doing alright in the field, luckily.

Since most of us are quite busy birding this month, let’s just do something quick and easy this week. Pluck Pluck Pluck should do the trick, a nice, refreshing rice lager brewed by Outer Range Brewing Company of Frisco, Colorado that features the humble chicken.

Hens and roosters are rather common motifs on bottles of booze – French wines in particular – but we tend to shy away from them at Birds and Booze. This is, after all, a birding website, so it’s much more exciting for us to find wild, “countable” birds out there on the shelves of beer, wine, and spirits shops. But we do give the tough, barnyard fowl its due on occasion, most notably in these past posts discussing the chicken as a national symbol of France and its appearance on weathervanes.

There’s not nearly as much symbolism to delve into with the playful gallery of poultry portraits that adorns Pluck Pluck Pluck. But it is an interesting lager, especially for one that makes such a quenching “lawnmower beer,” best enjoyed during hottest days of summer, whenever those take place. The secret ingredients? Jasmine rice and lime leaves. As some American “macro lager” producers have known for well over a century – including the biggest one with the eagle and Clydesdale mascots – rice is a great (and cheap) way to lighten a beer’s texture. But all of those brewers use bland, American long-grain varieties primarily grown to be unobtrusive brewing grains. The jasmine rice used in Pluck Pluck Pluck is a flavorful, fragrant cultivar, with a nutty, popcorn-like aroma that’s especially prized in Thai cuisine. And while oranges in various forms are a component in some traditional beer styles, lime is much less commonly used in brewing. In Pluck Pluck Pluck, these two unorthodox ingredients blend harmoniously to create a wonderfully floral aroma redolent of Earl Gray tea, Kaffir lime, and marigold blossoms. The palate is subtly herbal and spicy, with warming hints of ginger and citrus zest over the sweet, nutty flavors of rice and malt. And of course, all that jasmine rice keeps Pluck Pluck Pluck light, delicate, and brisk, making this a perfect beer for knocking back around the pool, after some hard yard work, or over the grill this summer.

Good birding and happy drinking!

Outer Range Brewing Company: Pluck Pluck Pluck Rice Lager

Three out of five stars (Good).

Written by Tristan Lowery
Tristan Lowery’s busy homebrewing schedule took a hit in 2010 when he discovered birding and found that scanning the waterfowl at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on a frigid midwinter morning could be just as much fun as standing over a steaming mash tun in a sweltering Queens apartment in August. While his growing commitment to birding has undeniably diminished his brewing output of ales - fine and otherwise - Tristan finds that birding still affords him plenty of excuses to at least keep drinking beer, especially when celebrating life birds, lamenting unsuccessful chases, and capping off an exhausting Big Day or Christmas Bird Count. After leaving behind a hectic cooking career in New York City’s fine-dining scene, Tristan moved inland to the New York's Capital District, where the relative abundance of Pileated Woodpeckers almost makes up for the fact that he’s only seen a single Sanderling in Albany County ever. When he isn’t birding his local patches in urban Albany, Tristan works in energy regulation for the State of New York.