The wonderful McPolanders had another event, this time in an attempt to empty kegs in their outdoor fridge. I’m not sure if they were getting tired of some of those beers or if some of them were just old (some were just old) but I am rarely going to pass up an opportunity to try free beer.
I mean, c’mon. I really like writing but free beer is free. So, here we go!
Double Mountain- Carrie Ladd Steamship Porter: Look at this. It’s nice and light and chocolaty. I tell ya, I’d consider drinking more porters if they were this good all the time, or trying to disguise themselves as stouts. The finish is both nicely roasty and a little sweet. Good palate cleaner, too: I can see eating both really heavy meals with this and something like a salad with some stronger cheeses mixed in.
Widmer- 2014 Smoked dark lager: It’s smoked all right. My first impression is: This beer falls into that ‘too much smoke’ trap that so many smoke ales do. And then my tongue started sending “fire” messages. I get zero nose from it, but this beer is spicy! A spice that lasts long after the smoke clears. Fire after smoke? Talk about mixing your metaphors. Something seems off here, because Widmer doesn’t do beers like this. Either I need a cleaner glass, or something has gone very, very wrong.
Fat Heads- Bumbleberry Ale: there’s a blackberry/blueberry nose, which I like. I actually looked up on the internet to see if bumbleberries were a real thing and it is, kinda-sorta. The ale itself is a bit sweet and there isn’t enough of a bubbly finish to erase it. That’s not a bad thing exactly but it has that fruit beer finish that makes me feel like it should be a flaw. I think that if the finish was crisper I would appreciate it more.
McPolanders- Chocolate porter: there’s a dryness to this beer and a little smokey quality too. This beer is complicated. That isn’t a bad thing but it’s making it very difficult for me to pin down what it’s about. I kinda want to sit at the bar with a full pint of this and bounce ideas off a chalkboard about this beer. When I ask the hostess about it, she tells me they put a little mesquite in there and things start to make a lot more sense.
Cider Riot- Never Give An Inch Blackberry cider: holy crap the nose smells like butter. I really don’t want to drink this but for you, I will. It’s…really not very good. Tart + buttery = no go. The big qualifier here is: I’m told this is pretty old and as a consequence, not a very good example of their stuff. I believe it. So I won’t take this experience as gospel but whoa, this has gone wrong.
Burside- Permafrost winter ale: Probably the most like what I would expect. Sweet in front, biter on the finish but it’s not an IPA. It’s definitely tilting more towards an old ale with the maple in the mix. Not the maple frosting flavor you get sometimes, closer to good syrup.
Lucky Lab- irish stout on nitro. Look, I don’t think I can afford to be a purist but damnit, if your beer is a stout then it shouldn’t be something I can see through when I hold it up to light. The beer is equally thin, like a watery coffee, absent the viscosity of a stout or the coffee notes that should be there.
McPolanders Blueberry Lavender ale. Boy, the nose on this is just LAVENDER. Rare to get a beer that punches you in the face with flowers like this. It’s a little too much. Buuuut. This beer has such a nice crisp finish, with the lavender remaining in my cheeks, I’m hard pressed to be upset about anything. It’s the kind of beer I can see a whole lot of people just going crazy for and being very, very happy with. The floral note plays off the berries and the finish is very bubbly. Good stuff, even if the nose plays hardball.
I asked the host about this one and he told me that the biggest difference between this beer and the previous iterations of the style they made was that they crushed the lavender this time instead of just adding the flower whole, like you would hops. He was not pleased with the strength of the nose and said he’d probably scale it back next time.
And that’s pretty much it! I had a lovely time, so thank you to my hosts, and the company was excellent, as always.