Words & Photo - Matthew Curtis
You've probably read reviews of American West Coast IPA that describe a beer as having "notes of pine resin." I've always felt a little weird writing this because you wouldn't normally consume something with a flavour that's more commonly associated with a car air freshener, or toilet cleaner. But read almost any review of an IPA hopped with Yakima varieties such as Columbus, Chinook or Simcoe and you can guarantee there'll be a reference to pine trees in there somewhere.
So when I came across a pine tree with resin oozing from the cracks between its bark while on a hike in the Rocky Mountains this weekend, I couldn't resist squeezing a drop between my fingers. The substance was sticky and glue like, seemingly attracting every speck of dirt around me and attaching it to my fingers. But the smell? The first thing it reminded me of was sticking my head into a freshly opened bag of Simcoe. It was heady, herbaceous and dank. Suddenly the descriptor made a whole lot more sense, and made me want to seek out more real-world examples of the flavours and aromas I find in beer. I draw the line at sticking my face in horse blanket though.