Category Archives: commercial beers

Common Ales: Culmination Elation

36216386234_c53d2245a2_cThere’s a little bit of pine, little bit of malt in that nose. Interesting!

The middle doesn’t make a strong impression though; it’s not too thin but not really present either.

Unfortunately, the finish tastes really dirty-I’m torn between a medicinal flavor or just plain dirt. That’s a problem, as you might expect and I think I got a bad bottle. It’s bad enough that I’m not going to finish this beer. Other beers I’ve had from Culmination has been better than this, so it’s a bummer to get a bad bottle.

I’ll have to try another one to see if this is just a one-off beer or if, perhaps, I just don’t like it.

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Other Spoils from Spokane

I didn’t just drink cider in Spokane: I also got to check out some Washington ales that I don’t have access to in Portland. Let’s get to the notes!

Harmon‘s Pt Defiance IPA: It tastes like burnt caramel. Wow. I have a mouthful of regret and bitterness. It’s both sickly sweet and unbearable. If you ever needed a reason to not do this to yourself, take it.

37327031616_3ebd17d38c_cIron Horse‘s Life Behind Bars kolsch: bread dough nose; really yeasty and pungent, but in a pleasant way. It’s a little bit like sourdough and buttered popcorn. The flavors are also very much like raw bread, giving me something to chew on, absent a sour note. I think I may have found a beer that gives Old Town’s kolsch a little bit of a run! It doesn’t finish quite as cleanly but it is a damn fine beer.

Juice Box IPA from Tricksters Brewing Co. A Coeur d’Alene brewery! The bottle claims a NW IPA style-and the nose is certainly dank enough for it-but the clarity is all NEIPA. The flavors match the nose more than the visuals, thankfully. Yeah, it’s sweeter than your typical NW IPA, but a little malt helps the foresty-bitter characters smooth out in the long run. I like this beer: it’s got some interesting flavors happening but is still pretty drinkable.

36665807614_487ccd063c_cTenpin; Groove pineapple wheat. This really does have a strong pineapple flavor. However, it’s less like raw pineapple and more like it’s been roasted on a grill. I imagine that it’s because of the malt aspect, played up in a caramelized way. It’s a good beer but it’s definitely unusual and unexpected. But if caramelized pineapple sounds like your jam, you should absolutely have this.

Hale‘s Aftermath IPA-nose pushes some of that forest dank scent, wet needles, but doesn’t push it very hard. The flavors kick up a little roast in the middle which is unexpected, followed by a more traditional sweetness, and then the kind of bitterness I’d expect from a more piney IPA. No grapefruit tart or pithy bitter quality. It’s a pretty straightforward IPA but I can’t fault it for that. It’s tasty and solid.

Common Ales: Caldera Lawnmower Lager

36785920511_13f1f04d60_cAh, getting to the lagers just as summer ends….

The Lawnmower Lager has that nose, funk/sour that they have, but it isn’t strong. There are also whiffs of cut grass, too which isn’t a bad thing! As a matter of fact, I wish I got more lagers with a nose like this.

There’s a corn flavor to the malt; it’s not overwhelming but it is definitely covering up any two-row that might be in there. It even sweetens up the finish, where the bitterness might reside and the effervescence clears things out.

In other words; this is a lager. And it’s a pretty solid one, too. I’d prefer a less skunky nose, myself but this beer is still pretty quaffable and does what it’s supposed to.

Edit: This time I really am on the road this weekend, so there won’t be a new post up until Wednesday. I mean it this time!

Common Ales: Widmer Drop Top Amber

36386679050_3a52c61ef3_cThe nose has some caramel corn going on there. More like a corn nut + caramel sauce than the candy, though.

The beer is just a smidgen too sweet for me. It’s not bad. The malt character is there-I’d probably put this at a portion of C60 malt-but the label is saying that they added milk sugar which…eh, no.

Milk sugar doesn’t ferment, so you end up getting an ale with a denser body and more sweetness. In a style like a stout, where you can have strong roasted notes, that dollop of sweetness serves as an excellent counterbalance. In this beer, it just feels like overkill.

It almost finishes clean too; the finishing carbonation is good at clearing my palate off but not quite as good as it needs to be. The residual sweetness turns a little sour, like milk chocolate can do.

That’s a bummer because I really enjoy the nose-if the flavors carried some of those flavors too, then I’d probably be a bigger fan.

Common Ales: Stone Ruin Ten

35905566003_b8bc35a8fb_cThe label says it was made with orange peel and vanilla bean and those flavors come in through the scent of the beer. Luckily, that’s what the beer tastes like, too. That kind of consistency often makes for a solid ale.

The front end of the beer has a candy orange sweetness, almost like sherbet, but the finish of the Ruin Ten is a harsh contrast to the rest of the beer and that’s where it falls down.

This is a bit problematic. The bitterness is so sharp after the sweetness of the beer that it’s unpleasant to drink. I wish it wasn’t so severe but there it is and I have reservations about recommending it.

Common Ales: Ordinance Bloops

35552315835_38625c5746_kOrdinance Bloops is a blueberry wheat ale and now is probably a good time to review it.

The blueberry hits right off the nose. It’s fairly sweet too, almost like blueberry jam.

As I drink the beer though, I’m wondering if that sweetness isn’t due to the malt as well; this is a beer that is playing down the bitterness in order to highlight malt and fruit. The wheat aspects give the ale some body and I’m just wondering if the restrained hop character is making the sweeter aspect of the blueberry stronger than it might be otherwise.

Now, that all said I like this beer. I think as we get further into summer (or, uh, right now), this beer is going to become a great quencher of thirsts.

The other side; this beer doesn’t pair well, in my opinion. What do you eat with this? Traditional pub food isn’t going to mesh well. Salads, maybe. Pairing with food isn’t a requirement for a good beer-I think good beer is an argument for itself. However, as a common ale, one that people would buy to bring to a BBQ or picnic, this lack makes for a slightly harder sell.

The Bloops is still good; don’t worry about giving it to strangers, they will drink it. But I feel like the applications are a little limited.

Common Ales: Deschutes Pacific Wonderland

34861880604_cc761f0026_cSmells old. Like beer my dad drank in the 70s. The flavors are pretty close too. I can even get a touch of corn in there.

It’s the smell that’s the worst, to be frank. Sure, the beer is light, sweet, very crisp. But that smell makes me think of cheap beer and this is decidedly not a cheap beer.

Now I realize my complaint is not an entirely valid one: Lagers are meant to bring some of the flavors I have here. This is the style.

On the other hand, I also feel like this is a “brand” expense. Yeah, I can buy your cheap lager…but with this fancy Deschutes label on it, the markup is an extra $3.

Well, no.

On the other other hand, this beer is familiar. People who buy macrobrew stuff, this is their flavor profile. It’s hard for me to begrudge Deschutes expanding their market, which might bring other people to try their other offerings. If this beer is mysteriously cheaper than the rest then that looks pretty weird, doesn’t it? As though they are trying to sell you something cheap.

I nonetheless find the nose to be flawed and can’t recommend the beer based on that.