Category Archives: commercial beers

A Little Problem

I was honored to assist with the Oregon Beer Awards again this year-delayed and restructured due to the pandemic.

Part of that meant that fewer people worked on providing services this year…but there was still the same amount of beer. Which needed to go somewhere.

Leading me to having this:

Boxes full of beer

That is too much beer. And that is after I’ve given much of it away! (I am still giving beer away.)

So the upside to this is first: free beer.

Second: I can use this opportunity to sanitize my gear: mix up a bleach solution and run it through my carboys and hoses, and start running my bottles through the dishwasher. There’s never a bad time to spend some time making sure your gear is clean.

So, you know; making the best of it!

Common Ales: McKenzie’s Bombay Bomber

Rare to see something made in Oregon that I haven’t heard of (despite being around since 1991!) in the store, and even better to find it for pretty cheap. As a 6-pack, I appreciate that even more, as I feel a bit of a disservice is being done to consumers by having to buy pint sized 4-packs. That’s a lot of beer for most people. 6-packs spread the experience out better.

I want to like this: the nose is piney and that’s my favorite kind of hoppy scent. It lingers, too so they really leaned into the American Pale style, pushing the hop qualities.

But the finish tastes dirty. Something that shows up well past the expected hop bitterness, and goes into that sensation that the hops weren’t cleaned before they were added to the beer.

Something that shouldn’t have got into this beer and I can’t recommend it.

Common Ales: Laurelwood Megafauna

Laurelwood Megafauna DIPA in glass on table, next to can

Let’s talk ’bout this.

The Megafauna has papaya, tropical qualities in the nose. That fades but not completely, which is good. It’s consistent throughout the experience, which is a benefit.

It’s sweeter than I would expect from a double IPA. Admittedly, that sweetness makes this beer a bit more drinkable; the finishing bitterness isn’t as harsh as a result. But that bitterness is definitely there. I’d say it’s strong, but it doesn’t reach tongue scraping levels.

I’d recommend it!

Yeah, that’s a no from us…

bottlebybottle: *forwards picture of a coconut crème sour to apint*
bottlebybottle: “Yeah…no.”

apint: “Also no.”

/fin

This did get us to thinking about rejecting a beer before we’ve even given it a chance. I know that I like sours, but coconut is a flavour I find distasteful, and sour + crème reminds me of a time…when I drank something sour with something creamy. It was a terrible idea, one I regret to this day. (Ed. note; I also remember this massive error in judgment). I also know that apint isn’t very sour tolerant.

But: this is one of the many, many, many problems with 2020-2021. There’s no sampling. In 2019? I’d have gone to the brewery/thebrewpub/my local bar–wherever I saw that beer–and I’d ask for a tiny sample. Now? I have to commit to a tallboy. And it’s asking a great deal to commit to 16 oz. when you’re not sure you want more than, say, 2.

*sigh*

Common Ales: 2 Towns: Cosmic Crisp

Cider in mug on table, next to can of cider.

A friend recently pinged me, saying this was the best cider they’d had in some time.

And when someone takes time out of their day to tell you how good something is, well I feel I need to give it a try. So, although cider is a little out of my area of expertise, I picked some up.

There’s something in the nose-fresh cut apple, maybe apple blossomy? I’d say it’s just shy of perfume-y while still inviting.

The apples come through in the body, and this is a dry-ish, mildly tart drink. Enough sweetness that they might’ve back sweetened the beer, but tart and dry enough on the finish that it has balance.

It’s also quite bubbly: I wonder if they used yeast for sparkling wine, because that’s actually the nearest analog I can draw to the Cosmic Crisp. Except I find this beverage far more palatable than sparkling wine, in part, possibly, because it has such a clean finish. Or maybe I’m just not a big sparkling wine fan.

This has been a wonderful surprise and I’m pleased to recommend it to cider drinking friends.

Common Ales: Ferment Hana Pils

Ferment brewing Hana Pils in glass, next to can, on table, indoors

Whoa, this is a fine pils. I get the two-row malt, but also a little bit of sourdough. Just enough malt in the middle to give this beer some body, but not too much. There’s enough viscosity there that I don’t feel like it’s watery.

The finish is really nice too: just enough bite there to let me know that yup, they did indeed use hops in this beer, but not so much that it overwhelms the beer, or gives me that 70’s beer skunk. It also doesn’t linger, either; this is another ‘pub classic’ kind of beer where I feel it can really wash down some strong flavors, without interfering with the next bite.

Ferment did a damn fine job with this one, and I hope to see it again.

Common Ales: Sierra Nevada- Hazy Little Thing

This…is a hazy? This beer is so BRIGHT. Sure, I cannot see through it but light penetrates. So many hazy IPAs I drink are opaque.

Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA in glass, with can, on table indoors

The nose has some sweeter grapefruit qualities but it fades rather quickly. There’s enough going with this beer that it doesn’t matter though.

The flavors are where this shines: grapefruit is still the dominant feature, but while this beer does have some malt qualities, they’re mostly there for body, to give this beer a little weight. The finishing bitterness is strong but it doesn’t lean into pith qualities.

There are no soda pop elements. There are no fruit skin bitterness notes. It’s just…an outstanding beer.

I have to say: I’m really, really impressed. If THIS Is what hazy IPAs were, I’d probably drink a lot more of them. I am a bit shocked: after spending the last 18 months being incredibly disappointed with almost every hazy IPA I had, this is delightful.

Common Ales: Baerlic Nugs! IPA

The nose is tropical fruit sweet; I get a strong, ripe papaya scent off this beer. I like that, but it wasn’t what I was expecting from an west coast IPA. I suppose I’m just going to have to accept that the new nomenclature is: East Coast IPA: hazy grapefruit, West Coast IPA: clear + all other flavors, including grapefruit.

But back to this beer. The drink is bitter. Surprisingly bitter on the finish and I was honestly a bit dismayed at first. Maybe about halfway through, I got used to it but there is no bridge between this fruity nose and this near scouring bitterness; there’s just liquid.

Do I dislike this? Mmm…well, I can’t say that I’m a huge fan. It isn’t bad but I was definitely craving something to close the gap between the nose of the beer and the finish of the beer.

As always, YMMV.

Common Ale: Pelican Midnight Malt

A porter from Pelican brewing, this has as a prominent cocoa scent in the nose.

Porter in glass, on kitchen counter, with can of ale

That’s…almost, but not entirely, the beer. The flavors here also offer a little vanilla to provide some sweetness to the porter. I find this to be a great shift from the go-to accompaniment of coffee. This choice helps make this porter stand out and gives me something to recommend.

As the beer warms up, a bit more roasted quality comes out; it stops shy of smoky but there’s absolutely more intense, dark malt flavors going on. Still no coffee though.

Really, a damn fine accomplishment from the folks at Pelican and I say give this a go.

Common Ales: Ft George- Cathedral Tree

Fort George's Cathedral Tree ale, in glass, with can, on table.

The can says “Barrel Aged Pilsner”.

However, it doesn’t say what kind of barrel. Now, this is weird for multiple reasons, right? Because you’ve got a 4.8% beer-well within alcohol tolerances for pilsner-that has apparently been put in some kind of barrel.

But it seems unlikely that the barrel has been previously used to store alcohol, because the ABV is so normal. Wine or spirits tend to boost a beer’s alcohol percentage by a couple points, meaning I would expect this to be a 6% beer if aged the way I typically think of beer being aged.

So what did they do?

The nose is yeasty-has that funk that makes me think of bread rising.

The beer is a bit fruity, though. If I had to take a stab, I would guess that this had been kept in a white wine barrel, maybe chardonnay? It also finishes dry, contributing to that idea.

What if it was just aged in an oak barrel that had had no previous occupant?

I’d say that this beer doesn’t have the same thirst-quenching punch that I’d expect to get from a Pils, but there’s nothing wrong with it; set me down with a place of nachos and a pint of this and I’m good.