I hope everyone’s holiday went well! I was in the Seattle area and met up with Fuz with what little free time I had. We made our way over to Wingman brewing and I was able to hang out there for a little while, trying their single malt, single hop (SMaSH) beer, made with Topaz hops. I was even fortunate enough to talk to the brewer, who was serving that night. He was great and answered as many of my questions as he could in between serving others, so thanks to him!
Now, the Wingman serving area smells awesome when you go in, because it’s just a sectioned-off part of the brewery. The drawback to that awesome is that it was difficult to pick up nose of of the Topaz ale. As it warmed up, grapefruit starts to come out but it’s quite bitter on the finish from first sip to last.
In this respect, it’s difficult to evaluate the Topaz SMaSH; is it properly displaying the hops? Yes. Has it been paired with a malt to show that off? Yes (the GWM Pale Ale bag in the background was used). But I feel like SMaSH ales are frequently excellent examples of why we blend ingredients. The Topaz needs more flavors to counterbalance its bitter qualities and standard pale malt by itself just doesn’t cut it.
On the other hand, there isn’t anything wrong with the beer and these kinds of experiments are not only ones I approve of and want to support, but that I find educational as a drinker and brewer. How else am I going to really find out what something is like, if I don’t just go all in on it?
I don’t want to give the impression that Wingman cannot make a good beer, though. I took some sips from the P-51 porter that Fuz got and it tastes like a more well rounded beer, and it’s quite good. I tried their Ace IPA and found that to be more to my liking, again because I felt it was just a more complete beer. I also appreciated the willingness that the brewer had to talk to me about what he was doing, because that helped inform a great deal of what I had to say about the SMaSH beer and I look forward to visiting Tacoma again.
Which is not a sentence I thought I would write.