Category Archives: commercial beers

Bay Area 2017 (pt 2)

Part 2 of the Bay Area reviews!

Fieldwork- Chocolate milk: this is a milk brown ale and….whoa.It tastes like it should have a lot more weight-my friend Kate (who is playing tour guide for me today) says “heavier and a little creamy and it’s not” which is a good assessment. But it’s also damn good-which we also agree on. Unexpected yet tasty.

I a35167038146_cb750d861e_clso got the Power Glove double IPA which is equally wonderful, one that Kate (who does not like IPAs) says is “almost drinkable”. For me it’s super drinkable and has a really pleasant orange flavor, which is a welcome change. The bitterness gets a little sharper as the beer warms up but nothing undesirable.

Faction (reviewed again because I went to their brewery): Moon Germs pale-made with oats, this pale has that kind of roundness that you get in the mouth from that addition. But after that, it seems like a pale. The hop finish is a little intense, however it’s not enough for me to suggest that the beer shouldn’t be drank.

Headlands: Wolfback Ridge IPA-good nose with a pine sway but the beer itself wants to put the malt forward. I’m not complaining, as there is a subtle bitterness that appears on the finish. That bitterness seems to get a little stronger as I go, keeping things in the IPA realm.

Barebottle: Galaxy Dust IPA. Ah, the NE strain of IPAs has indeed made it to the Bay array. But this isn’t bad! The grapefruit isn’t too pronounced, the bitterness isn’t too strong. It’s almost like drinking a less abrasive, more alcoholic Sprite, actually. I’m kinda down with this.

35167038886_d0057a14d2_cMagnolia Brewing: Kalifornia Kolsch-The nose has me wanting to like it already: with that yeasty, dough rising scent. And huzza! It pays off; the mouthfeel is just rich enough to keep the beer from feeling watery, with a soft, grainy flavor and a very crisp finish. Really solid ale and especially good for summer.

Alvarado Street: Hive Mind double IPA. The nose isn’t very prominent, so I’m not sure what I’ve got here. Visually, it’s cloudy like a NE IPA, but this is a sweeter beer. As it warms, there’s a little bit of a skunky note that comes out, along with a little more bitterness. Which is good, because that prevents the beer from becoming cloying. Solid and I’d try another.

Common Ales: Golden Road-Ride On IPA

33702899493_fc1aa22576_cHere’s what I knew before I bought this beer: I don’t know them, and I should try this beer!

Here’s what I found out shortly after buying the six pack: they are owned by InBevAB.

I hate unknowingly giving evil my money. I mean, I know that sometimes I’m going to do that, especially with this series. There’s just no way to avoid it. But I don’t like feeling duped.

It doesn’t really matter though. The Ride On IPA Hop nose is faint, but even and lemony. This is not a bad stretch for the beer itself; almost…like lemon detergent. Drinkable detergent.

The bitterness on the finish isn’t too strong-although it becomes a little more potent as the beer goes down-and all in all what I have here is a pretty inoffensive, fairly drinkable thing.

Which is the best I can say about it; ‘you can drink this’.

Common Ales: Scotch Ales. Sorta

So I was telling my friend Noah that I’d had Gigantic’s scotch ale recently and thought it was good, but seen a fellow OBC member talk about Fort George’s scotch ale and thought it would be cool to compare them.

“I’m in for that,” he said and so we began a short quest to drink Scotch ales and compare them.

Here are our impressions:

33702901823_5bea06f7a1_cWalking Man; High Road Scotch Ale- a little smoke on the nose but nothing offputting. Noah points out that the sweet flavor is is very similar to the Innis, but that this beer is better balanced. He’s right; the sweet qualities in this beer are¬†very similar but the roast note, with maybe a touch of peat? on the end keep this beer in check in a very appealing manner.

Innis & Gunn; Oak aged scotch ale- It’s sweet. It’s light, yes, and there’s a touch of smokey malt on the finish but we are agreed that “that’s very weird”. For me, there’s something cloying about this beer and I don’t like it. Noah is a bit more forgiving but he isn’t inclined to buy it again, either.

34513423255_71a093a120_cOrkney; Skull Splitter- there are a lot more hops on the nose-a bit spicy, and it pays out on the finish too, with a bitterness that overshadows the smokey malt quality. It plays out much lighter than the Walking Man, and a bit more quaffable. We are agreed, however, that this beer has the most Dwarven name ever. I mean-how can you not picture this ale being made by denizens of Middle-Earth?

Gigantic: Mons Meg- this beer is emphasizing the roasted qualities more than the others but it is far and away the best ale of the night. We both agree on that. What’s also interesting is that we agree that the higher ABV beers work better. Our conjecture is that the sweetness of the alcohol helps offset the smokey notes.

And that was it. I went looking for the Fort George beer but couldn’t find it-I was told that the Plaid was their seasonal and they’d moved on to a saison. All that effort to compare beers and we didn’t even get to try the one I wanted to try.

Until…we met up at the Upper Lip to play some Magic. For whatever reason, the taplist just wasn’t grabbing me so I sauntered up to the fridge to see what bottles and cans were available…when I saw out of the corner of my eye a very distinctive orange pattern.

Well, son of a gun. A late contender! So I bought us two cans on the spot.

34600117105_a41ac42639_cFort George: Plaid-¬† There’s a strong chocolate note, a lot like a brown ale but with something to distinguish it from a brown ale; weight. There’s a slicker viscosity to this beer than a brown would have. Still pretty dang tasty, similar to Walking Man’s submission. Noah more or less agrees; the beer is pretty good but for him fairly different than the other beers he had. He picks up a more smokey toasty quality on the finishing malts, distinguishing it from the others, though he still liked it.

Common Ales: Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA

34633901590_56190a7f60_cFirestone Walker is a bit higher end but they haev a good rep and they can be found almost anywhere now. I actually like most of their stuff. However as you’ll see, I wasn’t as enamored with their Union Jack IPA.

Sticky limes is what I get from the nose. Somewhere warm, tropical and with a solid citrus fragrance comes to mind.

The middle isn’t very strong. I suppose…I mean, yes, it’s a pale ale but when the liquid gives way to that strong lime bitterness right away, I feel like I’m missing something. Sure, it works but can’t I get something more?

It wouldn’t take much. A little malt in there and I’d get something to lead me into the bitterness. As it stands, the imbalance in this beer just isn’t working for me.

 

Common Ales: Bridgeport Cream Ale

33704038863_b334c59095_cDid you ever feel like you were too hip for lagers, because who drinks dad’s beer anymore, but really miss the lighter, refreshing qualities that a lager can have. Not to mention the ability to pound a few of them after mowing the lawn, because fuck it?

Well do I have a beer for you.

The name Cream Ale is, in my mind, a misnomer. I don’t even have the slightest idea how this beer is called that. It even has that funky nose quality that lagers tend to do.

That’s a me problem. Don’t let it be a you problem. Cream ales are a style and it’s my fault for thinking they should be creamy, not the beer’s fault for adhering to style.

This offering from Bridgeport is pretty drinkable and it has a definite bite on the end to let you know that you aren’t just drinking water. Definitely recommended as the days get warmer. Although in Portland, I’m not sure when that will be…

Common Ales: Modern Times Lomaland

With Modern Times moving into the Portland market, now is an opportune moment for me to talk about their beer again. Previously I only found their stuff in Washington and I liked it a bunch, so I’m excited to give a different style a review.

The nose is funkalicious. Straw and dirt and outdoors.

The rest is also quite accomplished. The can says ‘rustic’ on it and that’s not a bad inclusion from the marketing folks.

33894410526_24af5d4d36_zVisually, it’s WHOA clear. I’d mistake it for a pilsner just by looking at it. Well done, there.

The beer itself is pleasantly chewy; there’s some sweetness in the middle but it isn’t overwhelming at all. It’s grainy, this mouthfeel: there’s a little weight to this saison that provides some nice body to it. The finish is dry and a little spicy, like pepper maybe?

I like it. I like it a bunch: it’s easy drinking despite having so many flavors going on and has a lot of “let’s drink this in the shade when it’s hot” vibe.

If there’s a drawback, I don’t see this pairing with a lot of food. Maybe a bread, cheese, and olive picnic? It’s just fine on its own, though.

Common Ales: Bridgeport Tiny Horse Pils

33459339115_76066ba34a_cRecently, there was an article in the Willamette Week about how Bridgeport Brewing has been negatively impacted by current craft beer trends. I’d certainly hate to see them fall by the wayside, so when I saw some beers that were new to me at the store, I thought: “Well, let’s see what Bridgeport is doing.”

Lager funk nose is dead on there. The beer itself is very light, very clean, and finishes with just a hint of hop bitterness. There is a smidgen of sweetness that rides in the middle, subtle enough that I don’t notice it at first but I like the effect.

The ABV is contributing to the quality, I think: 5.6% isn’t too high but it is definitely enough to give this Tiny Horse a bit of power. It doesn’t feel like drinking water and I like that.

It’s good, is what I’m saying. If you’re the kind of beer drinker that figures there are two kinds of beer: yellow and brown and you like the yellow stuff, then this is absolutely for you.

If you’re just someone who wants a good beer with pub food of any stripe: this beer is also for you.

Or, maybe you’re someone who feels like having a decent pilsner. Then I’d say give this a go, too.

If Bridgeport goes down making beers like this, Portland will be worse for it. But if they go down making beers like this, then they will be going down swinging.