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We’ve Got Tonight and Infinium

Infinium is a beer for champagne tastes, perfect for ringing in the New Year and toasting the area’s burgeoning craft beer scene.

When the clock strikes twelve on Dec. 31, people all over Arlington will cheer and wish each other a very Happy New Year.

For many, the New Year symbolizes the beginning of a better tomorrow. So, if you look forward to a good year ahead, spread some happiness with a bottle of Infinium, a Boston Beer Co. specialty brew that wanders into champagne territory past the normal expectations of what you’d get from a beer.

According to iconic Boston Beer founder Jim Koch, Infinium, "has some of the dryness, the freshness, the crispness, the effervescence and acidity of champagne, but the texture and mouthfeel and structure of a beer."

Boston Beer’s brewers worked for two years with the world’s oldest brewery, Germany’s Weihenstephan, to create this unique new beer style. Made with only the four traditional ingredients mandated by Germany’s Reinheitsgebot or “purity law” (malted barley, hops, water and yeast), Infinium has fine bubbles; a fruity, spicy aroma; and a crisp, clean malt character complemented by a slight citrus flavor from a dry-hopping with Bavarian noble hops. Bottle conditioning adds another layer of complexity.

Koch and the brewers at Weihenstephan found it quite a challenge to create an entirely new style within the confines of the Reinheitsgebot, which has governed German brewing since 1516. They rearranged the entire brewing regimen by having the mashing process (which breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars that the yeast can use) take place in the brew kettle and fermenter. Instead of a heavy, cloying doppelbock, they came up with an effervescent brew that measures 10.3 percent alcohol but is light on the palate, with a fine bead carbonation and brilliant clarity. It’s fermented with a Belgian and a champagne yeast and undergoes the methode champenoise. Boston Beer and Weihenstephan are patenting the process used to make this unique beer.

Infinium was introduced during the 2010 holiday season and is making its second appearance this year. The price tag - $20 for a 750-milliliter bottle - is well above that of a typical high-end craft beer. It’s somewhat difficult to get your hands on in our area (except maybe Westover Market’s “wall-of-beer”), but you can find it being bought, sold and traded on E-Bay for up to $100 a bottle.

Asked what her plans were for New Year’s Eve, Katie Piepiora, Boston Beer’s public relations director (and CEO Jim Koch’s right-hand), replied: “We’re just planning to drop into close neighbors to share some incredible beers, including Infinium and Samuel Adams Utopias..”

No doubt neighbors’ eyes will be lighting up like diamonds when they see Piepiora at the stroke of midnight with a copper kettle-like bottle of the highly sought-after Utopias, clocking in at 27 percent abv. She may even have nestled a bottle of my favorite dessert beer, Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock, and possibly even a round of the spicy and bold, big Christmas cookie kiss of a beer, Old Fezziwig, available in the Sam Adams Winter Variety pack.

Much like Piepiora, my plans include a gathering of close friends here and the retelling of an early midnight toast my friends from Ireland shared with me on a recent holiday trip: “Say to the man who stands at the midnight gate: Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. And harken to his reply: Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you brighter than light, and safer than a known way.”

So, Happy New Year and Sláinte! my friends. May your good fortunes be many and your joys never end in 2012…through Infinium!  

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