On The Rail: Culmination Brewing

“That’s a pretty ridiculous hat,” she says. She’s waiting for her drinks as I arrive and has commented on my appearance before my ass has even made contact with the barstool. She’s got got dishwater blond hair in a ponytail, a gray hoodie, with sharper features around her nose and chin.

“Thanks!” I reply, as I get settled in.

There is a pause I didn’t realize was going to be there until she speaks again.

“Any reason for it?” Her eyes are flat.

I look back, confused: I hadn’t realized this was going to be a conversation, exactly. It doesn’t feel like a fun one and it’s only the third sentence.

“Uhhh…it’s a long and dull story,” I tell her, trying to gently deflect from the subject. Why DO people wear clothes? Well…

“Is there a short and dull one?” Oh, fuck.

My braingears churn rapidly and finally I say:

“I liked a comic book character when I was sixteen and he wore a fedora, so I started wearing one.”

“Oh,” she replies. I can feel a wave of judgment. I don’t know what else to say. She gets her beers and I’m glad that she is returning to her friends. I do my best not to eavesdrop on the clearly judgmental conversation she’s having with her friends but snippets come through to me as I write. I get the sense that they feel this pub is theirs.

Good luck with that.

I get Culmination‘s “ReYnard” belgian yeast IPA. Belgian yeasts and IPAs rarely seem to work well together, because the yeast aftertaste tends to be competing for space with the hops aftertaste and this one…almost works.

The nose has a bit of funk to it, with a nudge of citrus and the finish repeats the nose but with the bitterness arriving first and then something kinda plant funky on the end. The body holds it all together, albeit barely: I’m pretty sure there’s some wheat malt, because the textures resemble a wit on my tongue, a chewy quality that keeps the whole thing from going off the rails.

It’s not great though. It holds together, that much I feel confident saying, but the sum of the parts don’t create a greater whole. Still, it’s a bold choice and interesting so I’m curious about the other beers Culmination produces.

The only other beer right now is a cascadian dark ale and I frequently do not like that style. I can only think of one beer in that style I’ve ever really liked so I’m feeling  dubious about trying it.

Still, the owners are here: April and Tom are their names and they are clearly enjoying themselves, talking about their business, visiting with customers as they can. The serving area has been open for all of three weeks, I hear, which explains the limited selection. It also makes me want to give them a bit of leeway: the first few months of any brewery often produces beers that aren’t quite on target, as the brewers dial the system in.  Let’s try the cascadian dark. (They call it an imperial black IPA, the 4&20)

It’s got chocolate and citrus in the nose, the chocolate barely there…but the flavors go in a stranger direction. It’s sweet! The chocolate is played up heavily in the malt and the bitterness isn’t too prominent, neither from hops nor a coffee astringency that many beers of this style are far, far too guilty of.

I like this beer! I like it quite a bit. It’s got a similar issue as the previous one; the sum of the parts don’t necessarily make a greater whole but I’ll be damned if it isn’t interesting and it’s tasty enough that I’d want to share it with other people and talk about it. So I’m intrigued. Let’s see some more beers from them, and check back in a couple months.

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