In response to some of these beer columns, a number of readers have pointed out that while not necessarily a bad thing, I am a bit of a beer snob. Their "proof" of my snobbishness is in my use of the phrases "industrial beer" or "corporate beer" when referring to such big brew brands as Budweiser, Miller or the like. I believe there needs to be some clarification. If I don't like Bud, it is for the same reason that I immensely admire the Anheuser-Busch brewing organization - their consistency. Bland, tedious consistency. Look, gentle reader, one of the most difficult challenges facing any brewer - from stove top, to global operation - is consistency. Beer is a notoriously and wildly unstable mixture of ingredients. There are any number of factors that can change the taste of a lager or ale a little to here, or a little to there. One degree (or less) change in brewing temperature and you get an entirely different beer. Add one extra hops floret mixture; roast one extra cup of malting grains; use water from this tap and not the other; boil the wort for one minute more than the last time around, and you have a new creation (and that's not always a good thing!). The little changes; the minuscule differences, the minor slip-ups can make or break a batch of beer. And keep in mind, a "batch of beer" may involve thousands of gallons of brew. What Budweiser and some of the other mega breweries have done, and done exceptionally well, is reach an unbelievable level of consistency. They've turned consistency in the brewing process into not so much a science, but rather an incredibly beautiful art form. Everything they do at Bud is geared toward product consistency. The Budweiser demand for consistency is so great, and so corporately all-encompassing, that there is no room for any, Any, ANY divergence from the recipe. And that is what makes this company great. Consistency. So consistent, in fact, that I don't like it. I love the differences, the nuances, the quirks and foibles. I love the taste. I love to feel and find - to close my eyes and roll a mouthful of good ale around to try and discover the intricacies and find what the brewmaster was trying to accomplish. I love to delve into the deep grain lists being experimented with at small breweries, knowing that the next time I try this same beer, it may change just a little bit. I love to imagine a dedicated brewmeister looking quizzically at his latest batch and wondering, "What the heck?" I love the diversity that Bud won't, can't and never will be able to give me. So it isn't that I don't like 'em, I just don't like 'em. I'll stick with the stuff that offers a little sense of adventure. A new find. A little mystery. Polestar Pilsner Left Hand Brewing Company Longmont, Colo. First, for those of you following this column, let me point out that it is completely coincidental that I review two Left Hand brews so close to one another. Moving on ... Pouring Polestar we find a beautiful, clear yellow brew - clean enough to allow a view of steady bubble streams. This is sparkling clear and very nice looking. The head is fast forming, and fast receding. It dissipates quickly from the outside inward. This is a sharp, almost brilliant brew that has the classic look of a fine pilsner. Polestar has a delicious, subtle malt scent. The hops are out front, but not overly aggressive or assertive. The brewer allows for a fine balance. There are notes of light fruit, even a slightly peachy scent. Nothing overwhelming or off-putting. This is entirely interesting. There is just a hint of fresh bread in the background. C'mon team, sink your nose into this one! Polestar is delicious, with sweet, well-defined hops that are not at all domineering. With a mouthful, one can feel a definite floral push provided by the hops, although I have no idea which hops blend was used here. There is no quiet evolution of flavor. What you get at first taste is what stays with you until the last swallow. Polestar is slightly more robust than some pilsners and mildly reminiscent of a weak IPA. There is great mouth-feel with this offering. Polestar is a refreshing brew. Very, very, very nice. Well above anyone's average, and definitely flowery and flavorful. This is well recommended for someone who finds ale a bit too heavy, but the more corporate American lagers a bit lacking in taste. While it may seem a bit odd, I'd like to suggest this would be a good brew to have with a well designed chef's salad. I think the flowery hints will well complement a more veggie-based dish. Messiah Nut Brown Ale Shmaltz Brewing Company Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Now ...this is a fun brew. Interesting. Great lineage. Imaginative. Even the bottle is fun to read. The Messiah Nut Brown Ale is a deep, deep red pour. Dark, with tones of a finely aged mahogany. This is a clear and luxurious ale. It is bright, but at the same time so dark it is hard to see through the glass. There is surprising little head, and what there is forms dark beige, almost brown before slipping away. Messiah is a healthy, hefty nut brown with a subtle yet serious attitude. The bottle takes the guesswork out of the grain and hops list, naming them for the interested reader. Whatever the case, I found a well-founded caramel base with back tones of chocolate and a little fruity sweetness defined by well established and carefully roasted malts. Appropriate to its name, this ale has a certain nuttiness. It is earthy - as I like them. A well formed body. Deep malt blends are introduced early on in tasting. The background scents are more than evident in taste from the get-go. The malts are so well developed that it is a bit difficult to discern any hoppiness whatsoever. This is a very, very mature drink - deep in it's evolution. A distinguished nutty ale, yet offering a smooth and silky aftertaste. Let the first few sips roll around in your mouth a little to better establish the background palate. Messiah is a very well designed ale. The folks in upstate New York have done a lot with their breweries. Shmaltz is a good example of dedicated brewers getting "it" right. It is definitely worth investing in more than just a sampler bottle. A six-pack won't be wasted! Messiah is a wonderful nut brown. A great example of the genre. In honor of its roots, try this ale with some smoked salmon (lox) and a dollop of quality cream cheese. Pass the bagels, please.