Category Archives: commercial beers

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.


Common Ales: Melvin Killer Bees

I’ve liked other beers I’ve had from Melvin and I have finally seen one at a Fred Meyer so I thought this would be a great time to check it out. Here is: Melvin’s Killer Bees American Blonde Ale.

I am confused by this beer. The nose has just a nuzzle of that lager funk but not enough to distinguish it as a proper l33264535952_9ff7582748_cager. It also goes flat in the nose rather quickly, leaving behind a scent that almost reminds me of the beach, with that hint of salt to it.
The flavor profile tilts Kolsch, with that bready push in the midrange. It’s hidden behind a sweetness in front and a bitterness that creeps around the back of my tongue, however.

I honestly don’t know what to make of all that.

So let’s look up the style. 18A, Blonde Ale under American Ales (there is an American Pale and that is where American styles seem to end), suggests that yes, some bread notes are acceptable, the hop flavor should be kept low, a sweeter beer.

On further tastes, I have to admit the got the medium-dry finish right. This does want to encourage further drinking, in that regard. But I think the addition of honey-a substance that completely ferments out leaving no sweetness behind- may have pushed this beer in the wrong direction. I’m not certain, mind you, that whatever the honey may be adding to this beer did that, but it’s my best guess, given the other beers I’ve had from Melvin were well made.

Not for me; might be worth checking out for someone else though.

Seattle Early 2017 visit 2

31937202003_ab88f25811_cI have to admit, one of the big advantages of being in Seattle for nearly a week with only one responsibility was that I was able to space out my tastings over many days. Plus, try more stuff! So let’s finish this out, starting with…

Triplehorn Brewing, Falcon Cloak blonde ale: nice malty nose-reminds me of the Munich base malt and the beer itself is an easy drinking, sweet beer with not too much pop on the finish. Give me all the nachos and this. Or just this.

Skookum Brewery, Murder of Crows Imperial stout. This has been aged in seasoned oak and it tastes WOODY. There is also a sliver of a dry finish, which I wasn’t expecting at all. But I think I like it. The wood presence is there but there isn’t an alcohol note overwhelming the stout flavors.

Dagger Falls, Sockeye IPA: this is really malty for an IPA. While it it does have a peasant grapefruit thread on the side, the malt is dominant in the nose and mouth, until the very end, when a creeping bitterness appears. It’s almost surprising. I’m not sure if this beer has decided what it wants to be when it grows up. I don’t dislike it but I’m also not sure how to categorize it. Still, I’d drink another, and try more stuff from them.

Gig Harbor, Round Rock IPA-nasty vegetal finish. So, no.

Wander brewing, Shoe Toss rye IPA. I like this beer! There’s a sweetness in the middle that really helps ground the beer, while the hop bitterness and the spice quality of the rye malt smartly spar on the finish. I wasn’t expecting much but I’m delightfully surprised.

32627534211_112cffc27f_cOle Swede, Blueberry Cider. This has a tart blueberry nose with the cider sweetness in the mouth, an elbow nudge of tartness along the way, with a very, very dry finish. I am finding this enjoyable, with the tartness somehow complimenting the dryness at the end. I would recommend this cider, with the caveat that I don’t know a lot about the cider.

Hilliard’s Boombox IPA: my first sip finished buttery. Further sips had the bitterness step in but the butter flavor didn’t abate. This is a super nope.

Seattle Early 2017 visit 1

I had an unfortunate reason to be in the Seattle area a couple weeks ago but, my misfortune is your reading material! While I was there, I found a new local bottle shop, Imbibe, where I acquired many of the beers I’ll be talking about over the next two posts. I liked their shop and look forward to going back. Anyway, here are my mildly edited notes!

Iron Horse; IPA-nice nose, with pine in there but tasted papery, think I got an old bottle. (Note, I bought this from a local Fred Meyer).


Bainbridge Brewing; Eagle Harbor IPA-feels a bit old school NW IPA. The body is a little thin, making room for the piney hop forward nose and flavors.

Odin Brewing; Thor’s Equinox-dark Belgian. Not sure if the blend of styles works for me. There’s a little roasted quality, little Belgian funk together and I am not loving it. But I think someone else might enjoy it more.

Top Rung; 360 Red-very malty, with a great roasted flavor running through the finish. I like it, as the roasted quality gives it some dimension.

Black Market Brewing; Deception blonde ale with lime and coconut. The lime quality is very strong. It isn’t…bad but definitely wants Thai or Mexican food to pair with. By itself, I wouldn’t want a second.

32627523171_214ced6459_cEel River; Emerald Triangle IPA. Dank. Very dank. But as readers may recall, I like this flavor and I miss it, overwhelmed as I am by grapefruit IPAs. Tasty stuff, which finishes very crisply.

Northwest Brewing; Crazy Bitch DIPA. Nose is nice and floral, then moves towards pine. The finishing flavor is really really bitter-like chewing on spruce needles. I’d be a lot more OK with this bitter final punch if there was something to counter it a little. Also, the name bothers me.



Common Ales: Ninkasi Dino Ales

When I was small, I loved dinosaurs. I was ahead of the curve on that one-most kids I  knew were not into dinosaurs; it wouldn’t really be until the 1980s that they became cool. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that my love of dinosaurs translated, at least a little bit, to a love of any kind of monster, especially giant ones.

So when I saw that Ninkasi had two beers with dinosaur themed names, I thought; if this isn’t a perfect excuse to compare them, then what am I doing with my life?

The Tricerahops Double IPA first. This beer has been around for a bit- I think it might even be part of their regular lineup, but there’s never a bad time to revisit a Ninkasi beer. The label says ‘earthy hops’ and that’s not an inaccurate description. Like wet forest. There isn’t much malt to sweeten it up though; they’ve gone in on a dry finish which accentuates the bitter send off. It’s pretty straightforward beer, when all is said and done. I don’t know if it’s a flaw in my pour or not but I wish I was getting more nose off the Tricerahops because the ending is coming on very strong and there isn’t much to prepare my mouth for it.

31828736314_f44128b458_cNext is the Velocihoptor Double IPA. The nose has a nice grassy note to it but there’s as lot more malt to the flavor. The finishing bitterness isn’t as strong but leans more into a citrus family tree. As the beer develops an  orange peel flavor comes out a little more but it still isn’t overwhelming. I think I like this beer over the other: the sweetness is fuller, with a little roasted quality helps make this beer more drinkable and balanced.

Catsitting Rewards 2

31583020014_d601a3f4e2_cBut wait, there’s more beer to talk about!

New Holland; Dragon’s Milk bourbon aged milk stout. First thing, it smells like red wine. This is very odd, but it almost works with the heavy chocolate flavors that come when I drink it. The sweetness of the bourbon barrel arrives near the end and the stout resides warmly in my belly. Definitely a beer I’d like to share.

Roak; Roaka Cadabra Spiced Apple Brown: the brown ale is there, but the spice element-cinnamon, more than anything else-is so strong that the beer becomes one dimensional. It isn’t bad but it doesn’t encourage me to drink another.

Burnside; Coax IPA: This is very nice, as there’s an intense but not overwhelming tropical fruit nose that gives this a pleasant but distinguishable profile. It’s a nice change from all the grapefruit oriented IPAs I get now. The bitterness isn’t very strong though. I’d almost call this a pale, because it’s working such a midrange of flavors. The sweetness does offer me an interesting challenge, as I’m not sure how I’d pair this beer with food. It may not want that-which is fine-but I can see this fitting better in the autumn or spring rather than on one of the coolest days in Portland.

Crackers Brewery; Fifth Voyage coconut porter. The pour is…a little worrisome. Very foamy; the top third of the beer is nothing but brown foam, dense like some kind of sci-fi restraining foam. Despite that, I don’t get a much to smell and the flavors aren’t very strong. I don’t pick up any coconut, though there is a decent chocolate taste, and the finish has a texture I’m not enticed by. Something I want to scrape away, almost chalky.

Coronado Brewing; Señor Saison, brewed with jalapeños and piloncillo. The nose is promising, as it has the saison, farmhousey funk. The flavors are pretty solid on the saison range, a little funky/lemon, with a very, very subtle spice note-one that doesn’t even linger-to add some dimension that most saisons do not exhibit. It’s still quite drinkable though which I’m very pleased to discover, because holy crap I hate spicy beers. But this, this I approve of!

31614713973_f2ac6fd83d_cOddside Ales; Colossal Oversight barleywine. Fantastic caramel nose and my first sip goes right with it. A little maple to tweak the roasted elements; the beer has been barrel aged, though it doesn’t say in what. I could see a spiced rum though, given the sugary flavors, although it’s more likely whiskey, which I figure because of the way it warms my stomach.

Old Nation-Sanders Chocolate Stout: It is what it says it is. Chocolate goes through the whole thing-the nose has a chocolate milk mix in it and the beer is so chocolaty, it’s almost like chocolate soda. The finish is a bit at odds with the rest of the beer though: while there is a nice touch of coffee to help keep the beer reigned in, it’s very effervescent and that gives me a sparkly texture. I don’t really dig on that for a stout; it feels wrong. It doesn’t make the beer undrinkable but it definitely skews the beer away from the creamy texture it wants to evoke.